*From 4/23/16, a week before my mastectomy and a month out from completing chemo.
I have a lot swirling around in my head. I have discomfort in my body. There has been a cloud hanging over me since the initial excitement of finishing chemo. It is done but my the complications are not and neither is my treatment. I feel the weight of cancer building up on me and also on those around me. It is taking it’s toll. I still feel shitty one month out. My mind is in a constant fog. I am not throwing up, I don’t have migraines, my hair is growing back and I am starting to get the feeling back in my fingers BUT I am tired no matter how much I sleep, I feel mildly nauseous half of the time and I have an intermittent throbbing in my left breast. I am short on patience, easily irritated, grumpy. But I am fine. It really is not that bad. I am younger and healthier than most cancer patients and the chemo wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. So many people are fighting so many health battles and I am so grateful it hasn’t been worse for me. I am appreciative of all the consideration and thoughtfulness and support I have received in the last 6 months. Yet I am overwhelmed and frustrated and sad. I have to hide from my kids sometimes. I give myself lots of free passes. I have continued to binge watch crappy television late into the night and eat junk food and feel guilty about it (every once in a while). My husband and mother continue to take care of my children, my house, my pets, myself much of the time. I have continued to go about the daily stuff, live my life and be with my family as much as possible. I try not think about the cancer thing that much.
I have gone with the flow of treatment and remained a mostly passive patient. I am somewhat informed and critical of my medical diagnosis and care and want to better understand it all. To question things and educate myself. But I don’t like to talk about it because I feel it gives it power. I shy away from learning more about it because it is too big and complicated and depressing. I don’t trust western/modern/American medicine completely and blindly but I am utilizing it. It is so hard to have choices and make decisions about something so important with no way of really knowing what is right or better. Not under this kind of time pressure. I am lucky to have my insurance covering my care so far, but shit, life saving medicine shouldn’t be so expensive. No one should be denied it. No one should be forced to take it either. There are other ways to treat people and no one really likes to face the big factor of prevention and cause. Our resources are being thwarted and misused. It’s just too much and not enough. Ahhh! Sigh. Do you want to hear me whine about the cancer thing some more?!? I feel selfish. Taking all this time and space and special attention. I feel like I am on the edge of crying half the time, and geez, what a downer. Can’t we think and talk about something and someone else, already!?! Then again I have been dealt a serious blow. I am facing a health crisis. It is really hard. I do need help. And I have asked for it and taken it gladly. I am happy to hear from you and hear about your life, good and bad. Happy to take walks and share meals, run errands and sing songs. I am continually striving to find balance and keep perspective through all this and to be honest, open, realistic, kind and grateful. In that spirit, THANK YOU! Thank you for caring and supporting me and my family in whatever way you have or will or can. Know that it matters, is felt, appreciated and will one day or some way be returned. We are all doing the best we can.
So, Bye-Bye Booby! I am counting down 9 days until major surgery. 9 days left with my left breast and lymph nodes, the former having played a more noticeable and significant role in my adult and parenting life. 9 days until the cancerous tumors are cut out of me. 9 days until I am knocked down again, harder, and will need even more help. Until I won’t be able to physically care for my baby, my children (not that I have been doing a solid job these last 6 months). I am anxious and scared but I am excited. The drugs couldn’t shrink the cancer away so I am beyond ready for them to cut it out. Get rid of it. Please. I don’t want to see it and feel it anymore. I don’t want to know it is there. I don’t want it to be there. In order to make that happen, the U.S. standard of care and my oncologist says I am due for 6 weeks of radiation therapy a month after surgery. I embrace that there is more that can be done, but that doesn’t make me want to do it. All these treatments come with complications and challenges. But I will continue to trust the power and potential of modern medicine, while asking what questions I can. I will give it the chance to get rid of my cancer. And then maybe I can will it to not come back!?! Well, I am getting ahead of myself there. One step at a time. Chemo-check. Surgery-almost. Radiation-soon after. And then I will do my best to do better. To treat my body and health with more respect and care. To search out and explore cancer care alternatives. Maybe I will just start with therapy. Or not.
In the meantime, if you can handle the mess that is me, don’t forget I am still me. Don’t be afraid. I still need regular old friends and to be taken for walks and invited to potlucks. I want to be there for you in some kind of way, too. I might resist or make excuses. I might not call back or might not actually be up for it, but don’t let that discourage you and don’t let me get away with that too much. I need you. I love you. Kelley
In honor of my breast and just before surgery, I was gifted a casual, spontaneous photo session with my neighbor and super mama photographer, Denise. If you are having this surgery, I recommend you take some photos of your breast(s) before they are removed. You may not want to look at them for a while as you process your loss, but down the road you will be glad you have them.
*For more information about Inflammatory Breast Cancer, visit theibcnetwork.org