Housekeeping and Words
So, this post is a lot of housekeeping.
First, I need to apologize to you if you are close to me and found out about my cancer via reading my blog. I know that's not the way you would have chosen and a few people have told me how much they hate that. I get it and I'm sorry.
But here's the thing: I process by writing. I'm a writer, and as long as I'm writing, it means things are not dire. There is hope and I'm working to find it. As long as I'm writing, it means the essential part of me is doing just fine. By way of contrast, the events that led to the end of my marriage left me so wounded and heartbroken that I didn't have words for a long time. That was bad. (Seriously, that was baaaaad.) I have all kinds of words and discoveries about having breast cancer. That's actually a really good sign. But I get it--we all process things differently and I am truly sorry if you felt left out of my inner circle because I didn't tell you personally. Honestly, I limited telling people to a very few people who are related to me by blood. (Or, you know, my Counseling Skills class' small group because I had class the night I found out and that's like a three-hour counseling session.)
Plus, you know, it's hard to say out loud. I still choke a little when I say it. "I have breast cancer." "I have been diagnosed with breast cancer." That sounds pretty scary. If I write it, it seems more like a plot twist.
Second, it's beginning to sink in that there is a battle ahead of me. I'm taking stock and getting ready. I'm dialing in my optimally healthy vegan diet with no sugar, gluten and limited grains in order to give the cancer as little fuel as possible. I'm CONSIDERING giving up caffeine (realistically not going to happen until after grad school.) I'm trying to get back on the mat, although I won't be able to exercise for 3-5 weeks after the surgeries. I'm trying to build in some better sleep habits, and I am absolutely sitting in meditation every day. I want very much to ramp my pranayama (the yogic breathing techniques) back up--those I can do immediately post-op and the calming meditative effects would be so welcome. I have to find a way to manage my stress better. It's been an inordinately stressful year and I think if I had been more firmly rooted in the meditative practices of yoga, I would have weathered things better. I'm not saying stress caused my cancer. But I think it would be a lot easier to navigate if my practice had been stronger. Let me know if you're interested in taking back your own health and I'll document what I'm doing and put together a Facebook page (or another blog for you Facebook haters) to encourage us. Or I'll just keep going here if that's more helpful.
Third, I am still in voracious research mode. I'm talking to all manners of doctors and naturopaths and doing as much reading as I can. (For a woman who is at the end of her second semester in grad school, this is a surprising amount.) I have said the word breast so many times in the past week-and-a-half that if the NSA really is listening to my telephone conversations, I'm probably on a list somewhere. Right now (and this is subject to change,) it's looking like I will have the lumpectomy and then a week later (if the margins are clear,) I'll have bilateral breast reconstruction and reduction. Both of those surgeries are day surgeries with no hospital stay, so that's good.
And then I'll probably do the radiation, which I will find out more about when I meet with the oncologist.
Fourth, I want to say a lot about the outpouring of love and support and kindness I've encountered through this whole thing. It's been simply breath-taking. That you would open your hearts and take the time to send me cards and notes and presents and flowers...I just feel so held. So blessed. Honestly, if your good wishes could heal me, I would already be well. I don't know how to say thank you, exactly, but I will never forget your unbelievable kindness. I'm so glad to have company on this journey.
I told you, TERRIBLE. But I needed a silver lining.
And YOU KNOW that you can get right back to that mat, if only to lie on your back and focus on your stomach rising and falling as you breathe. Or to do some mild hip stretches. Or whatever your body is needing at the time. Your mat is your friend.
A blog has considerably less... commercial feeling, though I know if I knew you personally, it might still feel weird. Still - as a fellow scribbler - I concur - while you're writing, you're not in a corner somewhere screaming. A hopeful sign, to be sure.