Recently I posted on my Facebook page that I’m a “breast cancer survivor”. I don’t really talk about it much anymore, mostly because I don’t want it to become my identity. I also don’t want pity.
I’ve thought about it and I realise that my story is a beacon of hope for those who are the midst of the struggle with cancer.
Having breast cancer was a major pause of reflection in my life. It was a time when everything was in slow motion and all around me were moments of gratitude intermixed with a lot of nausea. My memory has erased most of the bad parts.
At the time I thought I might die and I wrote some words to everyone who means something to me. I keep those words as a reminder of my hearts appreciation.
The hardest part of having cancer was the chemo, its horrible stuff; it wreaks havoc on every cell in the body. I cried when they said my hair would fall out.
The intravenous infusion I was given was called “the red devil” and it lived up to its name. When I got home I was violently ill for days and I had such bad thrush in my mouth that I could hardly swallow.
I felt all around me magnificent beings showing me love and support. I felt Angels watching over me.
The day I got my head shaved because my hair was a mere wisp I saw pity in the eyes of my beloveds.
On looking back though, I know I dodged a bullet. The first surgeon I went to when the lump was detected had visions of his Mauritius holiday when he saw me. He gave me no choice; just a “consent form” as he explained that if he found cancer during the surgery he would lop off my boob. (not in those words, but very close)
As I left his luxurious suite, he callously said to me “there, there, I operated on a woman just recently and she went to “The Met” with a sock in it”. He had the compassion of a gnat.
With tears streaming down my face I made my way out of the leafy upper-class suburb.
I spent the weekend trying to fathom out what sock size could replace my womanhood.
My niece a Medical student at the time had heard of my plight and she told me to go for a second opinion. It was the Sunday evening before the scheduled operation, and I had to act fast.
After firing Doctor “feel bad”, I found myself in the modest suites of gentle doctors. As one did the needle biopsy to see if it was cancer, the other, a surgeon explained that I had a choice. I could have a mastectomy or a lumpectomy. I chose the latter.
It’s now just a distant memory and I still bear a faint scar. I think about it sometimes if I get a bad headache or any unusual affliction and I wonder at times if it’s coming back.
I may have put it out of my consciousness to try and chase it away. Somewhere inside me some fear still resides but it’s not all consuming.
I have come to see it as the kind of life lesson that explodes with gratitude and hope. It has caused me to appreciate life more and smell more roses and imbibe more sunshine.
For those who were with me during this time my appreciation is cosmic.
I was lucky to come out alive….