Friday, January 11, 2008

cancer doesn't discriminate

i found a great website this week called circus of cancer. the author is a breast cancer survivor and the site is a guide for the friends and family of someone with breast cancer. in fact, the guide is written for you! what i love about it is that she presents facts and answers questions so clearly, yet the whole vibe of the site is very whimsical and happy. there is also photographs of the process of radiation, so if you want to see an example of what it looks like, the site is a great resource. click here to check it out, you'll be glad you did.

actually, i'll be glad you did. leave me a comment and let me know what you thought.

I've been telling more people about the breast cancer lately. people outside my circle of friends. folks that i meet in the course of my work day either at the rental property i manage or just out in the world. as i do this, i realize few people know what to say, it's a very hard thing to respond to. thinking back, i now see that before this experience of my own, i might have responded insensitively to someone telling me the same news. i might have chimed in with my story of my aunt who died of lung cancer at age 48, not realizing that isn't comforting or helpful for someone with a fresh cancer diagnosis to hear.

it's hard to know how to respond to bad news, frankly.

up until now, i've been afraid of dropping a "cancer bomb" on someones day. i couldn't talk about it without crying. just this week, i am starting to find my sense of humor again. although truth to be told, i still cry at least once a day. for the first couple of months, part of me felt ashamed for getting breast cancer. on some level it felt like a judgement on how i've lived. in this country, sickness is often seen as some kind of weakness, even as a indicator of some moral lapse. i blame the calvinists and my midwest background for those feelings. cancer, like death, doesn't make judgments. saints get it, bad people get it too. fat people who live on fast food and athletes who eat only organic. personally, i think that living on an increasingly poisoned planet has much to do with soaring cancer rates.

when i tell someone, i secretly watch and wonder if they are looking at my breasts when i mention it.

emotionally, i am way past ready to look normal and balanced in clothes. i am tired of wearing clothes that hide my curves in an attempt to disguise the new lopsided me. i'm nearly healed enough to start wearing my normal bras, with a prosthesis inserted on the one side. i'll be wearing that for nearly a year, until reconstruction next december. thankfully, there is a wonderful speciality lingerie shop here in portland, called just like a woman that has everything i need. they are also professionally trained to fit for women with partial mastectomies like me. they have everything from pretty bras to sport bras and they will bill my insurance! how cool is that?

today i go in for my 2 hour appointment to set up for radiation treatments. i'll be getting four tattoos (not as exciting as it sounds) and having a body cast made. stay tuned for a post on how that all went down.

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