I hope you don’t think that I’m being flippant about having breast cancer. You know, by the fact that I’m writing about upsizing my new boobs, or writing in a style that isn’t too serious. I know exactly what I have or potentially could have, and that’s why I’m doing what comes naturally to me. To write about it.
As a girl I’ve always been fond of putting my thoughts down on paper. Or as I grew up in the mid 80’s, typing it out on our archaic PC. Then printing it out on a dot matrix printer. If you don’t know what that is then you’re a young audience – thank you for reading.
Hey look. The word cancer scares the bejezus out of people. People don’t know what to say to you, how to speak to you. Whether they like it or not, most people will take on a sad expression, and give you a warm hug, arm squeeze or say “I don’t know what to say”. And those are all ok. You’re feeling something. I totally get it and appreciate any sentiment that’s come my way. Truly. I’ve had so many messages of well wishes, thank you to all.
Coupled with the word chemo, and all people can think of is that you’re bound to die. Harsh, but the reality is that cancer kills many people. That’s why I don’t want to wallow in self pity, or cry in a corner, or be any different. I don’t think cancer is going to kill me. Correction – cancer will not kill me. Because I’m doing everything that I can, that is offered to me, to ensure that I beat it. And in my case, that means going super aggressive, all Rambo-styley, to annihilate any cancer cell that may be lurking in me. I say “may”. Because while I have had the bilateral mastectomy, and the lymph nodes are clear, I have the aggressive type of cancer, HER2+. And that’s not great news.
Why, I asked the oncologist. I mean, the breasts are gone. What could possibly happen now? Well, (and The Rock had to explain this to me because whenever we see doctors I have a slight out of body experience, and information is simply not retained in my brain) because there is a chance, yes a small chance, that something could have gotten out. And that this may materialize into lung, liver cancer. Or other types.
You’ll have to excuse my language, but – Fuck. Really? Dammit. The oncologist I spoke to, Dr A, said that they normally profile the patient. To get a sense of how aggressive they want to go ahead with their treatment. On one end of the spectrum, you have the type who would rather not go through the hell of chemo, the hair dropping out, the side effects that come with it like nausea. They’d rather take their chances. Then you have the complete opposite end, who is saying “Give me all you’ve got”.
If you know me, and have been following my journey so far, then you may have correctly guessed that I fall within the latter group. And I told Dr A as much – “I’m all in” (and actually, I pushed an imaginary pile of poker chips across the table). Dr A said knowingly, “I know. Before you walked in, I read your file, and I knew you’d want to treat this aggressively. Why? Because no woman, NO woman, would choose a bilateral mastectomy on a healthy breast, unless she is prepared to do whatever it takes, and by that I mean aggressive treatment, to save her life”.
Woah, this man “got” me. I’m in this deep, let’s go for it. So, I think we are. I say I think, because I still want to get a couple of other specialists’ opinions. But as I told The Rock, I’d go with the more aggressive suggestion. If the doctor had said that I didn’t need chemo, I’d probably have reacted with “are you sure, Really? let’s just give it a go anyway, just to be safe”. Or as Singaporeans are fond of saying, “double confirm”.
Look I’m NOT in any way saying that if you are a cancer patient or survivor, and chose a different path, that you are wrong. If I’m preaching anything, it’s choice. You choose exactly what you want. It’s your life. Just as this is my life. So, I’m going down hard core chemo, where my hair is expected to drop, followed by more chemo and herceptin, and then tamoxifen.
How am I going to prepare for this? Meditation to create a positive mind. Pilates, weight training and movement to restore my physical health. Nutrition – eating what I should, leaving out what I shouldn’t. Social circle – I can’t do this alone. I need my family and friends, I need things to look forward to, and I especially need people to treat me exactly the same.
As I wrote in the beginning of this ‘essay’, initially people will feel sorry for me. But as they see how I’m progressing, bald head and all, I’m hoping that they will see me as the same person. A bit different of course. But as I like to say, this ain’t a Pity Party. This is my life, it should always be a party.