Monday, April 14, 2008

When I found out about my need for a mastectomy, I asked the surgeon if I could wait until the middle to end of May before having it done. I had several reasons for this.

1. I am the only one who can do my job. My boss can fill in here and there, but not every day until the end of the school year. If I suddenly disappeared she would have to cancel weeks of shows.

2. We need the income from my job. Although my job is only part-time, it helps stabilize our income. Without it we barely make ends meet. It's doable, but very difficult.

3. We need the income from my job. Yeah, I know it's the same reason, but it's a totally different reason. Our annual out-of-pocket maximum for insurance is $3,500. Once we reach that, insurance pays for everything. That wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for the timing of everything. We had just reached the maximum, but our insurance year runs from 3/31 to 4/1. We just started a new year and have to pay that $3,500 again before the insurance covers everything.

4. The Rationalist's birthday is in May. I wanted to be able to celebrate his birthday without being in the hospital or recovering from surgery for several weeks.

5. School will be almost over. By the time I start chemo, it will be in the middle of the summer. I'll be able to send the boys to Grandma's for days at a time if I'm really sick from everything. I won't have to worry about getting them to and from school, making sure their homework is done, making dinner for them.

6. I just needed time to process everything.

The reasons are very rational, responsible, and efficient...kind of like me most of the time. The only problem is that it has given me too much time. Some days I live in blissful denial about everything. Life goes along at its normal pace, and the word cancer seems like some sort of silly joke told in bad taste.

At other times, I am reminded of what lurks in the future. Seeing a sales ad for a particular style of bra that I love, but is very expensive, brought the thought into my mind that "I should get to that sale before it's over," only to remember that, after May19th, I won't be able to wear it. Any bra I wear after that won't be bought in a department store. Moments like that floor me all over again with the knowledge that there is something very wrong in my body no matter how normal I feel.

I have had too much time to research. I know what is in store for me. I want to know, yet at the same time knowledge is a burden I carry. I know that breast cancer likes to reoccur. I know that being young with it is bad. I know that the treatment for it can be worse than the disease. I know that I might go into permanent, early menopause because of the chemo and hormonal treatment.

I know too much for my own good.

I appreciate the time I have to get used to the idea of what's coming, but sometimes it seems to let the dread build up inside of me. It leaves me too much time to have conversations with well-meaning family and friends. I have to explain one more time to my mother that my breast can't be saved. I have to listen to one more,"I'm sure everything will be fine." That, in particular drives me crazy, because although I hope and believe it to be true, it seems so dismissive of what's coming.

And that's when reality sets in. I am going to permanently lose a part of my body. The body that's left is going to be battered by chemicals. Even if everything works great, it will be difficult. There's no way around it.

The saying is "idle hands are the devils' workshop". I think it should be idle minds.

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