Almost 2,500 days ago, I began writing this.
Four years ago today, I received my second cancer diagnosis.
Two days ago, I found out after a series of tests that I need a biopsy of a painful lump in the exact same location as my previous two cancers. I have to wait until a week from today for the biopsy, which might as well be a year. It could be scar tissue, or fat necrosis, or cancer. A round of mammograms and ultrasounds did not help the radiologists determine which it might be, so off I go. If the biopsy is inconclusive, I will go for an MRI. They have already prepared me for that.
About three weeks ago, I found the lump myself, like I did both times previously. I went on vacation right after discovering it, like I did last time. I don't regret that.
For four years I have had no breast tissue at all on the left side. If you aren't familiar with breast cancer on an intimate level, you might not know what this means. It means I have nothing--no tissue save skin and muscle and a saline implant that is half the size of my other breast, since it exists only to hold up my clothes and I asked for it to be that way, so I could be most comfortable. How could a cancer recur here? Well, hell if I know. If that's what it is, I most likely wouldn't be considered a "local" recurrence. It would have to be in my chest wall, on my rib, or something.
For seven years, I have written that this life is not about what we deserve. It is not a contest. As Augie parroted back to me a year ago: you don't have to win. And as I would add, winning and losing isn't the right construct.
For as long as I can remember, I have been acutely aware of my body and its fragility as a carrier of my self. I've never taken credit for my good luck with my body and I've never taken blame for my bad luck with it.
For seven years, I have gone about my business to the best of my ability in the shadow of this terrible disease. It doesn't appear to want to leave me alone. I've done everything I could do and many things it seemed like I couldn't do but did anyway. I've tried. It's difficult to explain how simultaneously impossible and easy it is to live your life in a normal fashion with a loaded and cocked gun perpetually at your head. I used to care about trying to explain it, but I don't anymore. I am sure I am a worse friend than I used to be, a more contrary and pigheaded and angry person than I've always been, if that is possible, I'm sure I should have cared about things over the last seven years I could not or chose not to care about. I'm sure I could have been better, if I had been different. But I am not, and I've done my best, and I will continue to do my best.
For three days now I have been anxious and nervous but not worried, not exactly. That's a different type of emotion, like guilt or regret. You feel it if you think there's something to be done, something you could do differently to change the outcome. I don't feel that, even if many people think I should.
About a month ago, Gabe and I watched the film "Bridge of Spies." I loved the Soviet spy character. He knew he might die in a firing squad or be disappeared. He was asked repeatedly if he was worried. He responded: "Would it help?"
For almost 42 years I have been alive. For almost 13 years I have been married. I have been a mother for over 11 years, which means my children have grown exponentially in the past 7 years we were not promised to have together. I have worked continuously for at least 25 years.
Time is so short, and also so long. While I go about my daily life with my family and friends and work, that is what I tell myself.
Wish me luck.
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
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