One Year Out
One year ago today, February 5, 2016, I found a hard lump under my right nipple.
I remember it so clearly. Maybe because, in my head, I’ve relived that moment many times.
You’ve heard my story before.
How I was hungover and cancelled my spin class reservation.
How I was in the shower, soaping up my body and my hand lingered on the underside of my right breast.
How I felt a hard lump under my right nipple and my hand dropped away and I muttered “Fuck” and I felt like I had been electrocuted.
In that split second, my whole life changed. My family’s life changed.
I was diagnosed with Grade 3, Stage 2, HER2 positive breast cancer. Three tumors. Not just the one that I could feel.
Three weeks later, I was getting my first dose of chemo.
Five months after that, I had surgery.
Followed by 33 sessions of radiation.
And I still am not done with my treatment because I have three more months of Herceptin infusions.
I’ve gone back and read some of the things I wrote about being diagnosed with breast cancer, about fighting breast cancer and all of the physical and emotional havoc that comes with those two things.
And I have to say, I still don’t see how this experience has changed my life for the better. I didn’t need to go through this to appreciate all that I have. It hasn’t made me a stronger person. And my family is most definitely not better off because of it.
I’m cancer free. Which is great. And I am definitely feeling better physically. My thyroid medication seems to have kicked in. (Thanks, newly diagnosed Hashimoto’s.) I have more energy. I really love my short hair and black and white color. I don’t have hemorrhoids anymore.
My joints hurt. I have lymphedema in my breast. The scar tissue under my arm is tightening so my range of motion is limited. I want my port out already. And even after four months of estrogen treatment for my aging, menopausal vagina, it still hurts to have sex.
I have weekly oncological massages, biweekly manual lymph drainage, weekly acupuncture sessions and newly added twice a week physical therapy. Along with Herceptin infusions every three weeks.
Having so many appointments to treat the side effects of my many treatments allows my cancer diagnosis to stay front and center in my life. On the one hand, I know that I’m lucky that I have access to all of this care. The combination of integrative treatments really do make a difference in my well being. But on the other hand, I just want this fucking shit to be over with.
And I’m looking forward to a time when a whole day goes by and I don’t think about cancer.