Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Update...to be continued...

Strong Heart and I visited the surgeon again yesterday.

The cancer is at Stage 2, which means that it was found in my lymph nodes, besides the tumour.

The usual treatment is radiation and chemo combined. We'll know more about scheduling and timing after we meet with the care team tomorrow (Wednesday the 8th).

It's not what I wanted to hear, but after wallowing in negativity for a couple of weeks, I got angry this weekend, and that got me out of it and now I'm in a positive place.

What got me out of that boo-hiss place? Well-meaning people who want to 1) treat me like glass and coddle me; or 2)tell me they know exactly how I feel because their sister/cousin/co-worker had breast cancer; or 3)tell me how I should be eating/sleeping/treating it, because of what worked for their sister's best friend's cousin's daughter-in-law.

I know they mean well, and so I do my best to respond graciously. SH gave me a great phrase to use--"Everyone's story is different"--and I embellish on it.

Sample: "Well, everyone has a different story. We really like my surgeon and we're going to see what she recommends. I'll remember what you said; but we really trust my surgeon."

So why does it make me angry?

  • Because I'm still healthy--don't treat me as if I'm suddenly unable to do anything. I want to do as much as I can for as long as I can. I appreciate the support and love that people are trying to express, but I don't want to let go of what I CAN do until I have to.
  • Because they DON'T know how I feel! The people who have survived cancer have simply told me that; "I'm a survivor," and nothing more. They understand.
  • Because I need to trust my surgeon, myself, Strong Heart and my care team. The advice-proffering folks have no idea what my health status is like, my life circumstances, my options. I personally plan to fight this tooth and nail. I have a 19-year-old son I want to see graduate from university, get married, etc.; a partner I love and plan to spend the rest of my (long) life with; work to which I am called and love passionately; family I want to be with; friends; experiences I haven't had that I want to have--I am going to do what it takes to be there for all of that. That's my decision, and mine alone, and I want to be free to make it without any suggestion that what I'm doing may be OK in the short term but ruinous in the long term, or vice versa--or harder on SH than it needs to be, or bad for my health in other ways, etc.

I know they are all well-intentioned. So I smile politely and repeat, "We're very happy with the surgeon. Everyone's story is different. I'm fine for now--if and when I need help I will be sure to call on you."

(Note: I do intend to ask for and accept help when I need it, which won't be easy for me to do; but I don't just yet!)


8thday said...

I just fell into your blog and have been reading the last few posts. I had breast cancer 8 years ago and I understand your frustration with people's "helpfulness".

My biggest struggle was the feeling of being sucked into the medical system. I had been healthy all my life. Then I suddenly felt I had no control - you will do such and such on this day, and you will do something else on that day, etc, etc. for months and months. I felt like a herded sheep, shuffling from appointment to appointment.

I'm glad you have confidence in your medical advisors. And I think you are in great shape because your post is filled with "my options" and "that's my decision". I think when you have some control, that you're a partner in the decision making process, you have half the battle already won.

I will keep you (and your partner) in my prayers.


The Vicar of Hogsmeade said...

Just thought I'd let you know that I read regularly and you are in my prayers

Clarence Darrow--Beyond Scopes and Leopold & Loeb

Personalities fascinate me--people do. One way I try to understand history and places is through people--which is why I love good histor...