So, after a lengthy absence here on this blog, I am stealing my beginning from the start of this blog: http://www.caroljoynt.com/my-blog/2011/02/i-have-breast-cancer.html -- my husband told me about it (he saw it on "The Daily Dish")
It took a few days to come to terms with the words that lead this post: I. Have. Breast. Cancer. At first, I allowed them in my head in only a whisper: I have breast cancer. Soon I had to speak to them to myself. I have breast cancer. And now, I have to learn to say them to others. "I have breast cancer." To my son. To our dearest friends. To people I'm acquainted with who matter to me. And here, too, on this blog. I have to own them, let them in. I thought long and hard about posting them here--"should I? shouldn't I?''-- but realized its happening not only to me, its happening to one in six women, and its real; it is the very core of "swimming in quicksand." If breast cancer isn't a swim in quicksand then what is? A doctor said, "you are in a large sisterhood."
You don't see it coming. One day life is normal, and the next its off the cliffside.
Cancer doesn't mail ahead with an arrival date. It does not let you choose whether or when. It arrives--in my case quietly--and settles in.
I know that it has been almost two months since I posted anything. Some of that has been because of work (a busy semester!) but I know that part of it is that I simply feel so "traumatized" (if that's the right word) by everything that has happened the last 6-7 months.
I was diagnosed on May 25, 2010 after getting a needle biopsy on May 20 (the same day of graduation here at SWIC). That semester had been terrible -- I mean, really terrible. I spent the first five months doing research for my dissertation, observing and studying two of my ENG 102 classes. The classes were focused on the topic of race (yep -- a touchy topic!) and let's just say that it was the first time in my career as a teacher that I had something like three formal complaints from students. So let's just go with "terrible" -- it was a bad semester. So it's sort of ironic that it ends with a cancer diagnosis. I then get thrown into this world that I don't understand and have to make decisions about things I know nothing about (i.e. lumpectomy or mastectomy? Still not sure I made the right decision on that one). And then come two surgeries, followed by all kinds of allergic reactions to almost every drug going through my body. Lymph nodes were clear, so no chemo. And then that changes. My Oncotype DX score comes back a little too high and then, all of a sudden, I am starting 18 weeks of chemo. I start radiation after the fifth chemo. That continues for almost 7 weeks (the hardest part being the 45-60 minute drive to and from the hospital). Teaching Full-Time gets harder and harder but I make it to the end of the semester. Then -- I have a complete hysterectomy on Dec 20 and realize that my body is not invincible. Major problems with even walking for a while. And then one of the most important people in my life dies on Dec 24. To throw another wrench into the mix, an eating disorder that I thought I had conquered years ago comes back, probably because of stress.
So that is why I feel "traumatized." I am not even sure that is the right word. I just know that I find myself having to concentrate really hard to get through each part of my day. Some days are easier than others but I feel like there is a blanket over my head that I can't seem to pull off in order to gulp fresh air.
But I know at least one thing. I need to work on that damn dissertation. And so this week that is exactly what I have been doing. And perhaps that is why I feel like I can finally write something again.
My goal is to be this girl again -- or at least as close as possible: