If you haven't had the time to go back through the archives, to the beginning of this journey, I'll sum up for you what this 9-year-old blog is about: my fucking cancer and how it changed my life and continues to change my life. My break-up with cancer is ongoing. It's a shitty co-dependent relationship that no amount of couples therapy could fix or destroy. I will always have this relationship. It's the only one I can't fucking get out of.
Do you know where this is going? Yes, I'm going there. Even if it might be, I hope turns out to be, unnecessary. On July 12, 2007, five days after my brother-in-law passed away from non-smoker's lung cancer at the age of 43 after a three-year battle (numbers mean a lot to me), I was diagnosed with Stage III Triple Negative breast cancer, three tumours in my right breast and two affected lymph nodes (and would later find out that I also carried a variant of the BRCA-2 gene mutation).
I went through a chemo trial, radiation therapy, a bilateral mastectomy with TRAM-flap reconstruction from August 2007-April 2008. I made it to the magical 5-year mark, after which my particular type of breast cancer supposedly has a low risk of recurrence (though it sure doesn't seem like it to me, among my friends who all have had Triple Negative breast cancer)...plus 4 more years. So here I am, 9 years later, about to go under general anaesthesia for the 14th time since 2008 for surgery on Monday. While I'm having a routine capsulectomy (my 2nd one since I had my mastectomy), and it's no huge deal, I'm also having a biopsy on my left side, in my armpit, on a lump. I've had this lump ever since I had my mastectomy, and it's been scanned and ultrasounded like crazy, but it was always deemed scar tissue. It has gotten bigger, way more noticeable and painful this last year, so my surgeon is going to biopsy it while she's doing her other work.
Yesterday, I had a second CT scan on my lungs to check for growth on spots that have appeared--which have been there apparently for years, but only this year did the specialists decide that they wanted to look into it more.
So this is the thing: constantly checking on new symptoms or recurring symptoms of possible cancer is the norm for me. It's just part of my life, like vacuuming the floor, washing dishes, going on my monthly Costco run. There are times when I don't know whether or not doctors, other people, or even I myself think I am "in tune with my body" or if I'm "a paranoid, neurotic hypochondriac." How are you supposed to tell? Go with your gut? Yeah, see what I mean? Impossible to know what is right.
What I know is that I am still here. Nine years and some days after getting the diagnosis that would change my life in big ways, I'm here. But honestly, I'm fucking tired. And once again, I'm waiting.
For those of you out there who understand where I'm coming from, at least we can take comfort in knowing that there are other people out there who understand, even if this wrecked body can be a lonely space or shell or cocoon sometimes. I'm here, and so are you.