It’s been two weeks since I’ve been back to work – this is after three weeks in Newfoundland and then three weeks recovering from my fifth surgery. Let me tell you, it feels so good to be back.
Being in Newfoundland with my boys and family gave me a break I really needed. It gave me space and time just to let go, let go of all the shit I had been holding on for months. If you ask me what it was, I honestly couldn’t tell you, except the old me and the new me were at odds and the result was me putting in time.
It’s been quite foggy
Since Christmas, I was just putting one foot in front of the other, doing what needed to be done, nothing more, nothing less, just putting in time. Things would shift, and I would have a few good days and then the time clock would return. This tricked me into thinking I was ok yet I wasn’t. I was lost in my own life.
And I knew it. I knew I was putting in the time, but I couldn’t shake it. It was like the cartoon storm cloud that follows you. I would have days that I thought, “yes I’m back” and then realize nope, shit is still here, and I am drowning in it. I held on to my why – that is what got me out of bed on the really bad days.
Those close to me noticed, people in general thought something was off, yet most had no idea I was in the hellish in-between place. I thought I talked about the cancer, reconstruction and the aftermath that came with it enough, now I realize it wasn’t enough. One thing I would do differently is joining a support group. Being with others who are going through or went through it, would have really helped – I think it still would.
The Fact is Cancer steals
I realize now I downplayed what it meant to lose a part of your body. It was hard when the comments were, “Oh it could be worse,” “You’re lucky,” “It’s only a breast.” And yes they are all true, but unless you have lost part of you, regardless of the circumstances, you cannot understand. Unless you have heard the words, “you have cancer,” you can empathize and support (like my amazing support team did), yet you cannot really understand.
For me, the worse comment was, “It looks pretty good.” This one really hurt since I was waging a battle inside me about how much I hated the way it looked and how I missed my boob.
Cancer steals; it took away so much of the confidence I had (and yes I know that when I had a bra on you couldn’t tell), the plans I made, the goals I set. In some ways, it took away my hope. The crazy part is that I am one of the lucky ones. I know that, and that is why it is so hard to admit how shitty the last year has been. Grief has no rules, she didn’t think I was one of the lucky ones – she didn’t come at first, she let me feel I was ok and then wham! She decided to move in!
After the storm…
Now on the other side of the fifth and last surgery, I have more perspective, I have peace, I am pleased with the way my left breast is looking. This surgery was way more painful, and I am still recovering, physically, emotionally, and financially. The grief has shifted – she has moved out for now, and of course, you never know when she will visit again.
I have learned a lot this year, mixed in with all the shittiness. I don’t think it is all over – not sure it will ever be, that is the thing about grief it never goes away. For someone who deals with grief and supports others going through it, you would think I’d have been more aware of what was going on. The lesson is sometimes you cannot see where you are until you are past it.
On Friday my friend Tina said, “You are back.” I answered, “yes, I’m back.” “No, you are really back – your mind is back,” she said. That hit me in the heart, yes my mind is back, and I am feeling more whole than I have in a very long time.
If you are having a hard time, facing challenges or just need to talk to someone, please feel free to reach out to me. If you know someone dealing with breast cancer, please share this blog, cancer isolates as well, you don’t have to be alone!