words about words

A year ago today I got a life-changing phone call. I had infiltrating ductal carcinoma: breast cancer. It’s sort of a sad anniversary. I feel in a way as if I lost a year of my life (along with my hair, a chunk of boob, my fertility, and a few lymph nodes). But at the same time I gained so much knowledge. I know now how much I am loved. I know I can handle anything. I know I’m a survivor. I know now precisely what is important to me: My family. My health. My peace of mind. And what’s not: Stuff. Appearance. Impressing strangers. Being “cool.”

The parameters of “success” have changed drastically for me. If I’ve got my family, my health, and peace of mind, I’m good. No matter what I’m wearing, what I’m driving, what’s in my bank account or on my business card.

So thank you, cancer, for the clarity.

To update on medical matters:

  • I have three Herceptin infusions left, and then I’m done! I’m assuming I can get my port taken out, and that will be a huge deal for me.  Already planning a new tattoo to cover the scar.
  • I have had two injections of the estrogen-blocker thus far without any side effects. They were one-month doses. Today, I think Dr. Cap will bump me up to a three-month dose.
  • The daily pill I take to keep estrogen-hungry cancer from coming back is tiny and without side effects. So that’s awesome!
  • I’m supposed to have my annual mammogram this month, but I’m hoping since I just had a breast MRI in January (completely clear, btw!) I can get away with skipping it. Probably won’t fly, but worth a shot.
  • My  hair has come back as thick as before and is starting to curl. My husband loves my short hair and thinks I should keep it this way. I’m more curious to see what happens as it grows, but I’m not ruling out cutting it later.
  • My eyebrows and eyelashes are starting to fill in. I never lost them completely, but they were thin and scraggly AF.
  • I’m feeling normal and healthy. Not sick or weak at all. This seems like a miracle to me. Science is fucking awesome.12772035_10153449574902616_7427532228197249375_o

This still counts as “medical,” but I think it’s pretty important. I have a history of depression, starting in college and off and on throughout my twenties. I sort of figured (or at least convinced myself) I had “grown out of it.” But cancer kinda threw me for a loop. A month ago, I admitted to Dr. Cap that I thought I might be depressed again. That I expected when treatment was over that I would spring up ready to kick ass and take names. “But I still feel broken,” I said, as a tear rolled down my cheek. (Poor Dr. Cap, he’s the only one I ever cry in front of!) He asked me if I felt like hurting myself. “Not today,” I admitted. He told me that depression with cancer is not unusual at all and prescribed Paxil and put in an urgent referral for their shrink. The shrink’s office called two days later to tell me that they don’t take my insurance. [Just want to say here that that’s basically the worst thing you can do to a person who’s depressed: tell them they aren’t “right” and give them work to do (finding a new shrink)]. I still haven’t found a shrink, but…

I’ve been on antidepressants for a month and I feel like I’ve been living in a cave and finally found my way out into the sunlight. I’ve begun actively looking for a new job, I socialized with old friends, I’ve been going to the gym five days a week, and my husband and I just signed the lease for a house on a half-acre after living in an apartment for over a decade. Did I mention science is awesome?

Anyway, I’m feeling like a billion bucks. Like so great I think I’m grateful to Turdy the Tumor, because I can’t help thinking that that little cancery fucker led me here, to this good place with my family, my health, and peace of mind.

5 thoughts on “Breast Cancer, one year later

  1. Sonic Alpha says:

    You have better eyebrows than I do, and I’ve not had to battle cancer, lol.

    It’s always good to hear about your progress, I may not comment on it much… as I feel like I’m intruding, but I still read what you share with the world.

    Back when you were first diagnosed, I told you to kick its ass. I’m glad that you did, very glad 🙂

  2. Aimee says:

    You have met the beast and spit in its face. So happy for you, And it’s true, clarity is a strange but life-altering side effect (I won’t say gift} one gets from a cancer diagnosis. So proud of you and how far you’ve come. I hope there comes a time soon when you look back and realize you haven’t thought about cancer for a whole day. Love and best wishes, Aimee

  3. ksbeth says:

    so happy to see that you’re finding your way back –

  4. Azrane says:

    I too called it that you were going to kick Cancer’s ass!

    But in all seriousness, I’m really glad you have a new lease on life. I hope the paxil works for you with little complications. My girlfriend recently was diagnosed and is on Xanax and a prescription sleeping pill, which seems to be working so far, but can’t have caffeine or alcohol. She’s a little cranky about that sometimes.

    Your strength of character is inspiring, Christa. I appreciate you being open and public about the last year. Your candor always gave me something new to think about and ask questions about my own life with almost every blog post I read.

    Thank you. I’ll always be rooting for you, whether you keep writing or do something new, or just being the best mom you can be.

    You look great with the short hair! (And Reighvin cleans up well.)

  5. Bev says:

    yeah you!! Your hair is gorgeous. Mine is coming in but is straight and fine just like always. But it’s hair!! And so I am grateful. And yes, I am also ready to feel well. Life has thrown a few too many curves this past year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: