So since I am old and a lot of you are young, I guess I need to clarify that you are supposed to hear Janis Joplin singing the title line of this blog entry. But yes, I am indeed going to be saying goodbye to one of my boobies next week. I am a little apprehensive, because it is surgery and all, but I have never really liked my boobs. They are just too cumbersome. What upsets me most is that they are removing one and leaving the other, which will be the worst of both worlds, at least for awhile. Eventually I will have a new mostly matching set, smaller and happier boobs, although that will take another, much more complicated surgery a couple of months later.
It has been a long wait for this surgery, and this has not been to the benefit of my mental health. I went through the anxious stage, but I guess that was too much for my brain to handle, so I eventually slid into my sort of familiar land of denial of feelings. In that place, I have become dull. I have withdrawn from most physical contact with the world, and when I do have contact I just feel as though I am not completely there. I don’t engage. I listen and contribute some to the conversation, but I feel like I am somewhere else. People will ask if I am okay, or just wonder. Yes, I say, I am okay. And it is true: I am okay. I am just not here. I am flat. Like one side of my chest is going to be after next week.
I have also realized that I am having a hard time seeing past all this. It is basically going to take up much of the next few months. There is surgery, then healing, then likely radiation, and after that the reconstructive surgery. Honestly if they were taking both boobs I might forego that part, but it is standard part of the treatment now so I am going to do it. That will be a far more complicated surgery since it will be both boobs, plus they are going to take the material to make the new boob from my belly, so three surgical sites, with three completely different procedures in each, and a long surgery I imagine, since they have to reconnect blood vessels to the transplanted tissue. But the implants, I am told, don’t last forever. You have to get them replaced every ten years or so. No thanks!
The recovery from the second surgery will take a month or so anyway. And they are still not sure what other treatment will be in the future. Possibility of chemo, likelihood of hormone treatments since my tumor is both estrogen and progesterone receptor positive. So surgery, healing, radiation, maybe nine or ten weeks. Second surgery, healing, another four weeks. Honestly I guess it could all be finished in three or four months, and yet it feels like an eternity, and I am having a hard time seeing the other side.
I was in the awkward position of actually looking for a job when all this began. And I kept looking for one, although I knew that even though the law doesn’t require me to, I would have to tell a prospective employer that I would be having to take off large chunks of time immediately after hire, and nobody is going to hire me under those circumstances. So the job search is going to be off the table for awhile. Meanwhile, there are a few things I could be doing to prepare for my future earning potential. I do have two books that are in progress in one way or another. If worse came to worst I could probably self publish them and make at least a little bit of money. I know that I am really, really bad at self promotion, however. I’m not sure what it is that keeps me from working on them, but I think part of it is just thinking that it is impossible for me to be A Writer. It is what I always intended to be, from first grade on, and here I am Still Waiting To Become What I Am Meant to Be. Oh, I have used my skills to make a living, for certain, mostly writing legal briefs and motions, letters and declarations. Fun, but not what I had in mind. I wish someone would just offer me a publishing contract and give me a deadline which would make me Do Something. But since I haven’t even marketed my ideas, that’s not likely to happen. Meanwhile I sit paralysed.
I also enrolled in a Real Estate course awhile back, which I could work on and complete, and which would give me a little extra padding to my resume. I have been a resident property manager in my life and I am a paralegal, so add those three together and it could be helpful in getting a job. Who knows? I could even make it rich selling real estate! But I’m not doing that either. Instead I am watching Netflix and playing Candy Crush and visiting on Facebook.
It’s not like a don’t think there is going to be a future. The thought of dying hasn’t actually entered my mind. I know it is a possibility, but it is a statistically remote possibility. It is just a battle to fight and move on to the other side. On the other side, I will be better, and stronger. I believe that. But all I can see right now is the mountain in front of me.
So, benefits of cancer? Yes, I have experienced some. Most notable has been weight loss, and I don’t mean unhealthy weight loss because I have cancer. Since my diagnosis I have returned to a vegan diet, and a healthy vegan diet. I have lost fifteen pounds since November 30th, not bad for the Christmas season. But the most amazing thing is that my appetite has normalized. I am not certain what to credit this to. I did quit drinking diet sodas and I wondered if perhaps it was true what all those annoying people have always said, that the artificial sweetness of the diet soda triggers your appetite. And I drank a lot of diet soda. But these days, I just don’t have that insatiable desire for food that I used to. Being a vegan has helped with unconscious eating patterns. Over the holidays my kitchen counter was sometimes filled with cookies and pies, and had I not been a vegan I might have just unconsciously grabbed them and eaten them. But because I was a vegan, I couldn’t, and more to the point, I didn’t want to. I feel an honest aversion to the whole idea of eating animal products. On the other hand, there was a box of vegan cupcakes I got for my birthday that I didn’t eat either. I had a couple of bites of one, and it was just sickeningly sweet so I never touched them again.
So I find myself thinking, oh, this is what it’s like to be normal? I don’t think about food all the time. When I am hungry I look for something to fill the hunger and I am filled pretty easily. I am losing weight. I have diabetes, and at last check my A1C had gone down to 5.9, which was down from 6.5, which was from 7.5, and my random glucose in my pre-op test was 88. Win, win, win. Weight loss, new boobs, removal of abdominal fat to build my new boob. I am finally going to be beautiful! Okay, maybe not beautiful, but I will have the opportunity to be fitter than I ever have been. Do I have cancer to thank for this? At least in part. Better health through cancer. It was that wake up call, I guess. Take this stuff seriously.
Surgery is next Wednesday, January 11th. I appreciate your prayers. I will get back to you afterwards and let you know how it goes. Thank you as always for your support.