I’ve been in denial

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Cancer doesn’t equal Death any more

OK, so it’s true that I’ve faced the fact that I have cancer, I had a mastecomy and four months of intensive chemotherapy. I’ve had to face the fact every day when I look in the mirror that my long, long hair is gone. And I only have one breast.

But it seems that today was the first day —now that my ordeal is mostly over — that I have fully accepted the fact that I have had cancer. CANCER. The “C” word.

When I was a child (60s-70s), receiving a cancer diagnosis was the equivalent of a death sentence. Surviving cancer was very rare.

CANCER = DEATH.

I think that only at a very intellectual level have I acknowledged that I had CANCER. Cancer, the dread disease that kills. And, for most of my life, the dread disease that kills everyone who gets it.

Why, then, am I still alive?
Shouldn’t I be dead?

Cancer is a death sentence: that phrase was drilled into me for years and years. You get cancer, you might as well step on a land mine. You’re just as dead.

CANCER = DEATH.

The doctors will put you through all kinds of radiation and pump terrible toxic poisons into your arteries that will be just bad enough to kill the cancer but not quite bad enough to kill you. But you will feel really dead. Or the side effects might make you wish you were dead.

Well, that last part was true enough; there were days when the pain was that bad, believe me.

CANCER = DEATH.
Why, then, am I still alive?

Cancer and its treatment are not like you see on TV

There is a poster in my oncologist’s office –I’ve posted it elsewhere on this site — “What Cancer Cannot Do.” There are a few things, however, that cancer — and its treatment and resulting side effects — can do.

It can make you lose friends.

From the Breast Cancer Forum, one woman posted:

“[There’s] Nothing like cancer to weed out the riff raff in our lives I always say.”

Indeed. From reading what others have posted, it’s clear that there are those who can’t take the changes that the cancer, the chemo and the side effects make to you. It’s not like you have chosen these changes, at least not directly. By choosing to live and to reduce your chances of recurrence, you have indirectly accepted these changes to your body, mind and spirit.

Not everyone around you can handle it.

“You’re irrational,” your mother in law might say.

Yes, damn it, I’m irrational. I just had poison pumped into my arteries for five hours and in the next several days to a week, all the fast growing cells in my body are going to die. That includes the lining of my stomach and my intestines. I will either be constipated as hell, or I will sh!t my pants several times a day and be unable to keep any food in my body. If you can’t deal with that, go home.

I am going to sh!t my pants. Get used to it.

I’m going to be nauseous. I might even throw up. I might throw up several times. Cancer is hell. If you think it’s like a Hollywood movie where Dr. House comes in and finds the perfect cure, and within an hour I’m walking away like nothing ever happened, you’re head is f*cked up. Really. I’m going to be sick as all fucking hell for months, even after my last infusion. That’s the reality version.

I will NEVER BE THE SAME again. Get it? NEVER.

CANCER=DEATH
I SHOULD BE DEAD. BUT I AM ALIVE!

So why do you care if I’m irrational, if I shit my pants, or if I lose my hair? I’ve beaten the odds: I’M ALIVE, DAMN IT.

I HAVE BEEN ON DEATH ROW, AND WALKED AWAY A CANCER-FREE WOMAN.

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About Wild Rose

I’m known as Wild Rose, and I was diagnosed with breast cancer on January 8, 2008. I had no insurance, and my income, which wasn’t large anyway, had just been cut by 2/3. This is my story, my thoughts, and the ideas that I dream up or find elsewhere. I hope that other patients and survivors find solace here.

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