January 9, 2012

A Fond Farewell

I had a visit with my oncologist today. Due to mild neuropathy but otherwise good results from chemo, this week’s treatment will be my last. Any further treatment besides radiation will be determined by the pathology report from February’s surgery. I will see her again about three weeks afterward. If there is the need, we will discuss current clinical trials for IBC at that time. She remains optimistic.

I will be glad to say goodbye to mood swings and, eventually, the corpulence from the steroids. The neuropathy—numbness on the soles of my feet—will fade away in upcoming months. It will be great to close the door on all the side effects of chemotherapy.

Meanwhile, surgery becomes more real to me as it approaches. Perhaps not every woman feels this way, but I am mourning the upcoming loss of my breast. Some breast cancer patients are so eager to remove the life-threatening tissue that nothing else matters. I am eager too, certainly, but there is an emotional cost to me I didn’t fully anticipate. Of course, who really thinks about it unless faced with the inevitability?

I’ve seen the pictures and they are jarring. Is it possible to be ready? I don’t know. You see, for all my ups and downs with weight and aging and childbirth and surgeries, the one thing I’ve always liked about my body is my breasts. Quite frankly, when I was young my “girls” were pretty spectacular. And they’re not so bad now either. Forgive me, but they are my vanity. That will change.

I fully understand that this is small potatoes compared to the big picture of survival and quality of life. Allow me this brief moment to grieve. I have a few more weeks of feeling whole and then it will be time to get over it and move on.

Girls, it’s been great. Wish you both could come along for the rest of the ride, but that’s life. Literally.

Posted in part to CaringBridge.org

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Betty,
You, and "the Girls" really know how to make even a gay man's heart race, but it has always been your smile that holds my attention.

You are in my thoughts, EVERY day.

Love and warm hugs,
Mike

Ur-spo said...

You are a brave and marvelous woman.

Brian R said...

Hugs
Brian

Blobby said...

I love the post, which might sound odd. Of course one should mourn these kinds of losses. It's part of coping and moving forward.

And at least you called them your girls and not your 'dirty pillows'. :)

Rox said...

HEY! Maybe you should have a bust made of your bust before you say goodbye to them! I mean, imagine how creeped out your kids would be if you had your tits in the living room?! It would be awesome! Do it! Have a little ceremony about them and then bid them farewell. And then live to be a 100. :)

Love you!

Birdie said...

Rox, my laughter from your comment woke the dog. You know, I could title the bust "Dirty Pillows."

BadgerBear said...

Hi Birdie,

one of my friends gathered her women friends around her after her double mastectomy and had a 'wailing' for her lost breasts; I think they had a feast of thanks for life afterward.

I work in a huge regional cancer center (as a massage therapist) and am daily delighted to see women with no hair, with spriggy tufts, many with no breasts anymore at all. These women have lost something, but they've also found a lot: they've found their reason to remain alive.

There *is* a reason you're alive! Find that vector and ride it for all you're worth.

tornwordo said...

Blobby knows what it's like to lose body parts, just look at his hairless scalp ; )

I'm really glad you're done with the chemo.

A Lewis said...

I thought of you (and all of the other beautiful people) yesterday when I took my hubby to the hospital for the removal of his kidney stone. We have a brand new beautiful HUGE cancer center that always stirs up a variety of emotions when I walk near it. xoxoxoxo

Blobby said...

hey hey hey! ...and it's not the only body part i've lost........thank you!