Saturday, November 8, 2008

It could be worse...

These are words that rankle me and some of my breast blog buddies. When breaking the news of her TNBC, a blogger was told, well at least it isn't in your other breast.....
Well at least I have that.
It could be worse...

Well it could be a whole lot better.

The problem I have with these words, which I know 99% of the time are really meant to comfort me and what kind of person lashes out at good friends who are just trying to comfort you, is that they really put me on the defense. Not only am I having to face a possibly deadly disease that will and has disfigured me but I have to justify why I am not thrilled to death at this prospect and why I am not listing all my least I was able to live 55 years, have 3 beautiful kids that are (mostly) grown, see two kids get married, see my grandchild, have a large chance of survival, have a doting husband, have good friends, don't have it in my nodes, etc so I am an ingrate and a whiner on top of it all and it makes me feel so alone. Yet I realize how destructive negative thinking is and how it will really isolate me if these words leave my mouth. How will people want to be around me if they have to tiptoe around land mines such as this?

When I lost a baby 19 years ago, I was a wreck-even way more upset than I am now although post-partum hormones or lack thereof might have made things alot worse.. I know that even more people have experienced miscarriages than breast cancer-sometimes multiple times. I knew I should be grateful for having 2 healthy kids already-one of each sex and I seemed to be blessed with fertility-indeed I got pregnant without even trying and even while taking precautions against it but I was so overwhelmingly sad. People didn't want to hear about it, which I understood but sometimes they started with the 'it could be worse...' comfort line. My favorite was 'well it was a good thing it was so young so you didn't get attached to it yet' . What do you say to that? I guess I am an idiot because silly me, I was attached to it? Did this person mean to hurt me? No, she would never knowingly hurt me. I figured that maybe the only place I could talk was with people who went through this so I went to a support group---once. It reminded me of that old game show "Queen for a Day", which I thought was absurd even when I was 9. The premise was that 3 women got on stage and had a turn telling their pathetic stories, which conveniently could be made happier by having some consumer goods. One story would always be 'so what.." but the other two would be close in terms of garnering sympathy. The women would come on stage at the end of the show and the audience would vote by applause on who should win measured scientifically by the "Applause-o-meter" that an average 5th grader could construct. The winner would get her crown and her consumer goods. A whirlpool bath solved one woman's problems-wasn't quite sure what that was when I was a kid. Anyway, at this particular support group, each woman told her sad tale and they were very, very sad, way sadder than mine, so much so that I was acutely embarrassed to even bring mine up as I could read their minds... "So..." Suffice it to say the "Applause-o-meter" didn't even register for me.

I am not looking for applause or even sympathy. Just an unjudgemental ear and to know that I am not so alone.

So during the last 3 days, it has been warm and sunny. I was able to garden a little though I grabbed a stinging nettle too late. Ow! I have finally straightened out my testing schedule with UM, who never got back to me as they should have. A lot of the preliminary work could be done in one day including dealing with my possible hyperthyroidism, flu shot, etc.

I feel badly that I didn't run yesterday-squandering one of the few days I have left-but sometimes it is so hard to get myself out that door. It is colder today but I will run.

Josh took us out for lunch at a good sushi place which had these very tasty bento boxes. We are still debating who will have Thanksgiving-usually it is me-Julia wants to cook but he wants my stuffing but he can't tell her that. He has been the easiest kid to raise and I am so proud of him. I am glad that he lives nearby and comes over so much.

I did finally tell my buddy Dan I have cancer. He is still trying to obtain funding for his drug company that makes anti-pancreatic cancer drugs out in California. The last company he started was bought out by a larger company which then got rid of him. He is an interesting, energetic person who really believes he has the knowledge to tackle deadly diseases. Our families did alot together when he lived here 20- 30 years ago. He was my training partner for triathlons and my boss for part of the time. He has privileges at UCLA and could get on databases that I no longer have access to and has offered to get me any data that I need.

Later I went to Karen's. She is such a good friend but I was having a little trouble being cheerful.
I think that a bigger battle will be putting my mind in the right place than actually dealing with the physical problems of the cancer.

1 comment:

S. F. Heron said...

Sue, I think the struggle with mortality is one that every breast cancer (or any cancer) patient faces. I was decidedly morbid, not upbeat at all, and generally bumming everyone out until about 3 weeks ago. And I've been dealing with this cancer stuff since the end of June. That's a long time to be a stick in the mud. I was just depressed, so sad and weepy.

Give yourself some time. It's hard to accept such a radical change in your life. It's also so difficult to accept being thrown into something without your own consent. I hate that this has taken over my life, my days, my minutes and my seconds. I finally got mad and started taking my time back.

It's still lurking in the background but I'm controlling my upset better now. I highly recommend seeing a therapist if you can. Just for coping mechanisms and perspective.

Take care of you!


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