This is a re-post of a story I wrote 2 years ago, the only thing I changed were the numbers to make them fit my life today and how many years have really passed. The picture is invasive ductal cell carcinoma which was part of my diagnosis.
Yesterday someone emailed me and told me I am a marvelous cheerleader for empowering women dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis and then she wrote “but weren’t you ever scared?”
17 years takes a lot of the terror out of a person, no doubt, but to answer that question I have to say “Hell yes I was scared, I have been scared since, and I might be scared in the future.”
When I think back on how I felt 17 years ago I can remember lying in bed at night, unable to sleep, and virtually picturing my cancer jumping from one big toe to my other big toe. Silly huh? Impossible too, right? Of course my brain knew better, I am an RN, and get this when I practiced nursing I was an Oncology RN. Oh you bet your bippy I was scared.
When I was diagnosed, other than one distant cousin, I knew no one who ever had been diagnosed with breast cancer. When I worked in Oncology the patients I took excellent care of were not in good shape, so unfortunately I never met women who had moved past their diagnosis.
I was scared of my surgical outcome and how my breast would look. I was scared about my 4 lymph nodes that were removed in surgery-thankfully they were negative. I was scared of radiation therapy, i breezed through it. I was scared I would never be insurable again, not true, I have been insured ever since.
I was scared no man would ever want me again, after all I was a walking ticking time bomb, I was obviously wrong about that on both fronts-I have met and married the love of my life, and I no longer think of myself as a ticking time bomb.
I got scared – actually terrified and depressed – when Linda McCartney lost her battle because her diagnosis (according to the press releases) was the same as mine.
I got scared 4 years ago when I met a woman at a big fund raiser here in Tampa who has a bone metastasis on her spine and we both had the same sized original tumor, and our pathology was the same and we were diagnosed the same month and year. Why her? Why not me? That always scares me. She is doing fine, they have it under control.
I got scared the last time 2 years ago when I got out of the shower and something did not look “right”. That meant a year of breast MRI’s and Ultrasounds coupled with my regular mammograms. My breast cancer doctor calls it a hiccup. I am fine.
The degrees of being scared have changed, because time does march on. What scared the poop out of me 17 years ago, is gone or has changed. Every passing year when I heard “you have no evidence of disease” made me more courageous.
However being scared has been a good thing, because we do get complacent in life, and having a scare reminded me that I do have to be more vigilant. I applaud having a scary reminder now and then, it reminds me to listen to my body and get it checked out immediately.
That’s the key to unlocking fear, face your fear, and deal with it, don’t ignore it, we are women hear us roar.
Have a really pink day today! Amazing what you can do with those swimming pool foam noodles. Get one, hang one.