Categories
cancer rootwords

Fall

October is here again. That time of year when reminders of breast cancer are everywhere. The month – and my morning – started out with the realization that I am experiencing significant hair loss from the aromatase inhibitors I am taking. My hair is one of the features that I have always felt fairly confident about. No longer.

When I made the connection this morning between my meds and my hair falling out, I was crushed. Cancer has already stolen so much of what made me feel feminine and sometimes beautiful. This change to my hair was unexpected and makes me feel self conscious. I have seven more years on this medication, and it is saving my life. With that in mind, it is hard to face the ways it is aging me in the process.

Nevertheless, the tears came on the way to work this morning. The cancer is over, except I will be dealing with it for the rest of my life in different ways, big and small. Sometimes I am just so tired. As I wept, these words filled the car:

“Walking around these walls
I thought by now they’d fall
But You have never failed me yet
Waiting for change to come
Knowing the battle’s won
For You have never failed me yet

For You have never failed me yet

Your promise still stands
Great is your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet

I’ve seen you move, come move the mountains
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again
You made a way, where there was no way
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again”

Rootwords. I calm and wipe away the tears.

(Elevation Worship, Do It Again)

Categories
cancer

A Poem for April – PTSD

In many ways the 5 surgeries I had during treatment seem sooo long ago, but my body remembers. Since April is national poetry month, I thought I would share this poem I wrote a few weeks ago when my mom broke her arm and needed surgery. I was caught off guard by my reaction as I helped her prep in the surgery center and sent her off on the stretcher:

PTSD

it was the fuzzy socks
with the grippy soles
sticking out from her hospital gown
under the heated blankets
that took me back

along with the beeping
beeping
beeping
monitors
and the nervous chattiness

my expertise
about anesthesia
and avoiding nausea
and how to dress
for an immobile arm
comes to me again
so
easily

and I recall
that brisk look of business
under the surgeon’s cap
means
time to go

with intentionally breezy
goodbyes and
see-you-soons
given like a promise
under our control

quick kisses,
doors close
between
us

and this time it’s me
weeping softly in the waiting room
for now

and for then

Categories
cancer

Save the Ta-tas

It’s October, and the world’s turned pink. It was October when I got the mammogram that turned into a diagnosis. So it is both validating and jarring to see the pink ribbons and breast cancer awareness messages popping up everywhere from car dealerships to breakfast cereal to my Facebook feed.

I have mixed feelings about the pink ribbons. I got a lot of pink gifts from family and friends during treatment, and they are special to me. When I look at them, I feel the love. On the other hand, the pink ribbon thing is also a sales gimmick, and the vast majority of that money is not going directly towards breast cancer research or a cure. So when I am confronted with a tube of chapstick with a pink ribbon on it as I’m standing in line to pay for my gas, it sometimes feels gross.

But it’s the Save the Tatas awareness campaign that really turns me off. I get it. It’s fun and clever and cutesy. But I will tell you this: when I got that diagnosis and I imagined my children growing up and my parents getting old without me, when I thought about all of the things in this world that I still wanted to see and do – my ta-tas were the last thing on my mind. I wanted them off, I wanted my ovaries out, I wanted my hormones s.h.u.t. d.o.w.n. I looked the surgeon straight in the eye and said, “Do whatever you have to do, I have children to raise.”

So this campaign that reduces women to their ta-tas, smacks of objectification. Women have a hell of a lot more to offer this world than their ta-tas. Mine are gone, and I have had three years since to spend time with my family and friends, to do important work, to laugh and cry and pray and live. It’s too late to save my ta-tas, but every day I carry the fear that breast cancer could come back to take my life.

So please, don’t waste your energy fighting to Save the Ta-tas or, even worse, to Save Second Base. In the United States, a woman dies of breast cancer every 13 minutes. Until breast cancer is curable or treatable for everyone, forget the ta-tas. Save the people.