My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

21 October 2013

a bad day

For the first week after my diagnosis, I was living in denial. I was able to meet with doctors, talk about surgery and chemotherapy, and even think about the coming months with a fairly significant level of detachment. It felt like we were talking about someone else. Which was a good thing at the time. I had some big decisions to make, and I needed a level head to make them clearly.

Then on Friday last week I signed paperwork consenting to a bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstruction. And then on Friday night, it began to hit me. We're talking about me. MY breasts. MY health. Major surgery. A long period of hair-losing chemotherapy. And so the brick wall of reality finally began to hit, and the wall of "cancer is no big deal" began to crumble.

I am mad at cancer. Cancer is causing me to make some life-changing decisions about my body. Cancer is taking me out of commission as chief caretaker of my family and home, and even my annual Christmas Shoppe! Cancer is causing me to rely on my husband, family and friends for everything from meals and housecleaning, to getting my kids to and from school. Speaking of kids, my patience with them is already mostly gone. They're just being kids, but I can't take it. They just want to be with me, and I want to crawl in a corner.

My denial has turned to acceptance, and acceptance is making me sad. So very very sad. Its a sadness that dwells deeper than anything I can remember in my life time. Surgery is physically taking a part of me, something I can never get back. Plastic surgery never entered my thoughts before now. I've always been fairly happy with myself. But cancer doesn't care. It's taking my God-given assets anyway. They will be replaced with fake ones. It's difficult to describe (and frankly, somewhat too personal for the internet), but this is all very heart wrenching for me.

And would you believe I'm starting to feel guilty? I can't stop apologizing to Caleb for bringing this on our family. It's also my fault that the insane medical bills will start coming. I already want to apologize to everyone around me for the extra care we are going to need in the coming months. I am going to be burden, and I hate being a burden. But how crazy is that? I know its crazy, but I still can't make the guilt go away.

Breast cancer is so very very real. And though I am so sad about the consequences, I don't doubt for a second that I've made the right choice about my care. I flat-out refuse to go through this again. And on better days, I remember that my life on this earth is but a blip in eternity. I don't even need an eternal perspective to realize that in just a year, a new norm will have set in and I'll hardly think about cancer any more. But the process to getting there is going to be a long one.


Anonymous said...

You certainly do not need to apologize for what cancer is doing to you and your family. You did not bring it on yourself on purpose. All of us at one time or another will need to go something difficult that requires us to lean on others for help. You will come through this with a new understanding of what others have gone or will go through. It will bring a new sense of compassion to you. This journey allows the rest of us to be the love, words, arms and feet of Jesus in your life. Love and prayers, Your MIL

Anonymous said...

Reading your blog each day Heidi, love your thoughtful process and prayerful decision making. Seeking wisdom and finding hope in midst of life changing trial. Refiners fire...shows us our hearts desire above all else. Whose we are..our prayer is you lean on the Everlasting arms continually and know the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Love Aunt Cherie

Brent Larson said...

Being a husband who takes care of a wife who hates being a burden has made me be creative in finding ways to say, "I'm in this with you. You are NOT a burden. This is exactly what I signed on for, and I'm exactly the right man for the job." That's what Caleb is thinking right now, I'll bet.