Monday, April 20, 2009

Struggling and Making Peace

I've been praying today for a way out of this gloomy mindset I've been in. I called the Katz center and talked with someone there about ideas for what I'll be wearing after the surgery. I'm not the kind of person who even likes to wear make-up and I'm really into comfort. So I can't imagine I'll ever consistently wear those heavy prostheses with a bra. I'd like to come out of this never having to wear a bra again! But that would look so different from where I am obvious... So I did get reassurance that there were things I could get to wear in a camisole and was told where I could go to get those. (In fact they have them free at the Katz center like everything else!)

And what would be so bad about being flat now? What would be so bad about not having to wear anything?

Another thing I've done to work through this gloom and doom is to create some kind of letting go ritual. First I had Geoff take photos of what I'm going to be losing. Then I wrote a poem. I will put them together somehow with maybe some collage photos or some other kind of art.

So once I was done writing the poem (if you can call it a poem), I decided to share it with you.

The poem and my obsession with how I'll look afterward shows me how hard it is for me to just be visible as I am. I'm a survivor and will always be one. It has been near impossible to hide my status as a patient and for the rest of my life it will be obvious that I am a survivor...(at least to the people who know how I looked before).

My struggle surrounds not wanting to have people horrified to look at me. I know I can't control how others will feel or respond to me. But I've thought that I could for control that for a long time through being sweet and nice and easy to get along with and not asserting myself too much. My personality type as a 9, The Peacemaker wants me to fade into the wallpaper and be easy for others to be around. This disease was the perfect solution to push me out of the prison/security of my personality type.

Believe it or not, I'm a private person. You wouldn't know that being on this carepages all these months. But it's been a stretch for me to be so open with so many people but I've been determined to be that way because I think it's a way for me to heal. Writing this way feels semi-anonymous so it's an easy way for me to be myself with a large crowd.

Anyway, here's what I wrote today for my letting go ritual:

Goodbye to The Old Me

I went through the chemo and survived.
Now my hair is growing back.
But it’s still too short for Jason to even look at.
So I hide my head for his sake - even in this heat wave.
And now I’m going to lose my breasts.
I won’t be able to hide that.

How will I hug my kids?
What will they put their heads on?
What’s going to cover and protect my heart center?
No more cushiony, soft flesh standing between me
And possibly painful emotional attacks!
Will I feel vulnerable and exposed
Even though I’ll have nothing to expose anymore?

Funny how breast canser exposes your vanity.
There’s a deeper meaning behind that fact
That tickles me on a spiritual level.
But its complete significance stays just outside my grasp.
I’m afraid a flat chest
Will make my tummy look even bigger than it already does.
No more soft curves to take the eye away from my
No more long, soft locks, no more eyelashes…

Dig deeper girl, there’s more to you than meets the eye.
You don’t get to hide anymore.
No hiding behind the mask of beauty or the disarming gentle softness.
None of that truly protected you anyway.
Scratchy, noodgy wig gives you a mere semblance of
Normalcy – the only way you can deny the stark reality –
The only way you can get some privacy
The only way to keep from being seen as a canser patient
When that’s really what you are. Aren’t you?

Who are you really?
That’s what this diagnosis brings you to.
Who were you meant to be?
What do you have to offer this world?
Why should YOU live?
What is your purpose?
Why are you here?
And are you worth saving?
And more important, do you have what it takes to heal?

Well girl, are you going to stay hung up on appearances?
Dig deeper and find your True worth.
Dig deeper still and you’ll discover why you were born.
Dig even deeper and you’ll understand how to make
The Best of Even This.

No more bras.
No more saying yes when you mean no.
No more doing for others and pretending you want to.
No more heaviness.
No more disease.
No more fatigue.
No more migraines, depression, insomnia.
No more rashes during the summertime.
No more mammograms or fear of recurrence.

Just more freedom of movement,
More energy,
Better health,
Better commitment to exercise,
Better diet,
More love,
And a desire to give without feeling depleted,
An ability to stand by yourself
instead of worrying about what others think,
A renewed joy for living,
Plus some gratitude for getting a reprieve.

You get to live! (if it truly hasn’t spread).
Which you’ll find out after the surgery…
You’ll get to hear the final results.
And then you’ll have yet another cat scan
After the radiation.
After the trip to the North Shore, you lucky girl.
The chemo did the trick.
There’s a great possibility this will all be behind you.
You’ll get a second chance on Life, Chaya.
You get to do it right this time.

And you’ll never forget where you’ve been.
The scars and the new body will never leave you.
The hair will come back too slowly for you to get lost again.
The chest will look too different.
You won’t be able to forget.
You won’t ever be able to hide from your life again.

Your life, your feelings, your friends, your relatives, your family,
Your parents, your siblings, your husband, your kids, those
Nurses, those doctors, your soul,
This is all you have now. Nothing else is important.
You are loved.
You get to love back.
You get to be YOU.
That’s all that matters.