Pre-cancer, post-cancer

A couple of my friends mentioned I should update my blog…  I know, I’m sorry. The last 7 months I’ve been focusing on writing up resumes rather than writing in this blog about my boobs. I will try to be a little more consistent for the next little while at least.

I really thought I’d be working by now. I’ve been actively applying for work, week after week, for job postings I may or may not be qualified for. I’ve applied to women’s shelters, the city, Movember, arts jobs and corporate jobs. I have had it up to here, with resumes.

To update, I’m in remission, I think. I always thought remission meant after 5 years, of being monitored by oncologists, but it’s actually after chemo. Yesterday, I met up with Dr. C for a 6 month breast follow up. She thought I had already made the switch over to an implant and was asking when my nipple reconstruction was happening. I had to point out I actually had not made the switch from expander to implant. I’m scheduled on August 1st, I will have my boob job and four months following is when the nipple will be dealt with. Just this morning, I was trying to explain to Natalie what was involved in the nipple reconstruction. She was, I’m pretty sure, just as traumatized as I was, knowing the whole process involved. Natalie pointed out another option which was to get rid of all the nipples, so I wouldn’t have to deal with any of it. Somehow, I’m not comfortable with this option either. I am swaying on the option of using part of the nipple I still have to create the second nipple but I still can’t think about it too much as it gives me a headache.

In the meantime, I’ve taken note the extent of cancer which surrounds me. I went to my local butcher’s a few weeks ago and spoke to the butcher’s son, asking him how his father was, as I would sometimes hear the butcher’s name being called out, months ago, while I was in the chemotherapy waiting room. My butcher, I was told, has leukaemia and is still doing chemo. A few weeks ago, as I sat waiting in the Breast Centre at PMH before my oncologist visit, I heard the name of a local yoga teacher, whose class I used to take, called out. A week before I finished chemo, a friend’s sister finally succumbed to her liver cancer after a four year battle. Another friend’s mom passed away from an incurable cancer before I had finished chemo. A close friend held off telling me, as I was just finishing my treatment, her mother had a mastectomy and broke down asking me about hospital protocol for pathology reports and oncologist appointments. An ex co-worker who has prostate cancer, doesn’t answer my emails anymore because his battle is ongoing (which I get but hope he knows how much I appreciated chatting with someone who truly understood what I was going through during a really dark period for me). And finally my cousin’s husband was just recently diagnosed with colon cancer and is now in the midst of chemo and radiation treatments.  Not to mention all the requests I am getting to speak, to friends of friends or give advice to those who have just been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. The list seems endless. Am I the only one with a list this long?!!

It feels heavy to know that no one is immune to cancer. I stay positive and offer support whenever and to whoever is stricken with cancer but to be honest – it is heartbreaking.

So many moments I feel euphoric that my cancer is over only to be reeled back in on the short leash of trepidation and sadness when hearing someone else I know has to go through cancer. In some ways, I wish I could still be me – pre-cancer. Those days I was oblivious to the weight of  cancer on my psyche. It would be bliss to not care or to be that relative or friend who just doesn’t get it. Somedays I wake up with envy of those who show callous actions without realizing it. I MISS being insensitive and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Those days when I hounded my doctors to give me a timeframe of when the surgery, the chemo, the reconstruction would all be over, I was attempting to figure out when things would get back to “normal” for me.  To get back to pre-cancer. Life was lighter. I now know I will NEVER get back there but boy wouldn’t I like to try!

It’s okay though because post-cancer has some benefits. Now, when I meet up with old friends, I haven’t seen for a while, we greet each other with hugs which seem to last a little longer. My parents and I are less critical of each other and we make efforts to listen to one another without judgement. I truly get excited when my friends finish a bike marathon to raise money for cancer research. I have empathy with cancer patients/survivors which helps me communicate and understand them in a way I did not know how to before. And finally, when some friends and family part ways we say “I love you” out loud whereas before it was just assumed.

So, I remind myself, some of the post-cancer stuff isn’t all that bad. A lot of the great stuff, I probably would never have without having had cancer.

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navigating my way through cancer with laughter, fear, and madness.

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6 comments on “Pre-cancer, post-cancer
  1. angela stoner says:

    Norine, our journeys may have taken different paths, but your last sentence tells me we have ended up in very similar places.

  2. Anne Marie says:

    I’m happy to see another blog. Hopefully not the last

  3. marketaz says:

    Hi

    If 1 in 3 people are effected by cancer in their life time – everyone, eventually will come into contact with cancer. And no it is not selfish not to want to be continually bombarded with other people’s misery. Also I think that as time progress you may find yourself back to a more lighter you. And I hope so for you.

    I am happy to read you are in remission. Docs, don’t like saying someone is “Cured” of cancer – so remission can be for a life time – 20, 30 and more years!

    On one of my “Scientist talking to Breast Cancer patients” meeting that we do – I spoke to a remarkable lady. Young too. She had mastectomy and refused to have breast reconstruction. There in the full room, she took of her sweater and bra and showed me and others that it wasn’t a bad thing to have one flat chest. And she told me her husband didn’t mind at all.

    What ever you decide to do I wish you all the best and good luck on the first of August.

    Thanks for updating your blog too.

    • notso buddha says:

      Thanks, Marketaz!

      It’s nice to have the remission clarified. I’m so glad you dropped by and I’ve caught up on your blog, as well!

      That young lady at your meeting is way more courageous than I could be. Some women are “finished” with their breasts but I’m not there yet… 🙂

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