Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Part II

It has felt good to get this all out. Clear out my brain for new and happier things.

I spent days with ice packs clutched to my breast. Any bump or jostle caused me pain. Accidental brushes against my husband’s arm or body were jarring and scary. I developed a bubble around myself augmented with pillows whenever possible. I still sleep with a pillow around my chest. My husband while understanding, is irritated by this. In his defense, I have been cancer free for a couple of years. I hope to let go of my bubble by this summer.

After several weeks it was time to talk with the oncologist. She is a lovely woman, knowledgeable and friendly. I felt at home with her and her staff right away. She suggested a gene test of the tissue in order to better target my breast cancer with chemotherapy. We had this done. We talked about options: chemo and radiation, just chemo, just radiation. I chose chemo and radiation – let’s kill any remaining damn cancerous cells.

The day arrived to begin chemo. There was trouble accessing my veins – it took forever and was painful. Finally the line was in and the cocktail of chemicals poured into my body. The setting was calm and welcoming despite the underlying tension and fear. The nurses brought lunch bags of food and warm blankets. Around me were women silent and women chatting and women knitting and women sleeping. No hair, wigs and close cropped heads. Cool, chic business women with high heels and briefcases, charging in to tackle this task. So many women affected by cancer - everywhere - I was stunned.

I sat in my treatment chair, wondering what would happen next.

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