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