McKenzie Free

One woman's quest for greater understanding through freedom of self expression.

Archive for the tag “Cancer”

61

There is a gaping hole inside of me

Which nightly I try to fill up

With mounds and mounds of food

And sometimes sex with inappropriate men who like fat girls

It is a gaping hole which by now is the size of a basketball

A small hole that was ripped larger and larger by

my alcoholic father and crazy brother

Made bigger with each failed marriage

That grew to make room for the babies I could never have

And is currently being fed by fear of the spot on my liver

Fear of joining my cancer-ridden siblings in death

At night I feed it with pound cake and chips and red wine

During the day I feed it with professionalism

as I try to do one thing in life well

and sometimes with screaming unprofessionalism

as I fail to succeed in a dysfunctional workplace

At times, like this morning, when I am too exhausted to

stand up straight and carry on in the morning light

At times like this when I stop for a moment and sit very still

Alone with my thoughts

I simply sob until I have no more tears

And then I get up and get on with my day

Wondering if I will ever be able to heal this gaping hole

Or if it’s too late for a full recovery

perhaps just something to shore it up and keep it from engulfing me.

Study Hard and Get Straight ‘A’s

“Study hard and get straight ‘A’s —  that’s what I flippantly used to tell the kids as they went off to school.  Today I will find out my score on what is arguably the most important test of my life.  It’s not Pass/Fail — you get an actual score from 0 to 100.  If you get 100 on this test, you don’t get an ‘A’ , a big gold star, and congratulations all around.  You get to have Chemotherapy.

Apparently only 4 of 100 women with early-stage invasive breast cancer benefit from chemotherapy1, and we’re all aware of its toxic nature and the resulting side effects, most notably hair loss.  So, now they have a test called Oncotype DX that can help you find out if chemotherapy is mandated in your specific case.  Oncotype DX gives you personalized information about your individual breast cancer diagnosis.   If your score is low, no chemotherapy for you.  If it’s high then chemotherapy is definitely prescribed in your case.  If you get a score in the middle then you must decide for yourself if the risk of recurrence outweighs your fear of the treatment.

I’ve been waiting three weeks for the results of this test and part of me just wants to find out the score so I can make a decision and get on with my life.  The other part of me, a bigger part than I’m willing to admit even to myself, doesn’t even want to go to the appointment.  It wants to ignore this is happening to me and get on a plane and go somewhere sunny where I will lay on the beach drinking Mai Tais  and reading sexy novels.

There have been many times in my life when people have told me I’m courageous, or even fearless, as if the two words are interchangeable.  I never think of myself this way.  I’m certainly not fearless as I’m frightened of many, many things, including clowns and things that go bump in the night.   What others see as courageous was most likely me running away from something I feared even more than what I’d chosen to act on.

So today I once again forge through.  I will do what needs doing although I don’t want to.  I will get out of bed, I will get dressed, I will put my make-up on (for one can’t go into battle without war paint), I will go to the office, and when it’s time I will pick my sister up and we will go and find out my score.  For the first time in my life….I’m hoping I flunked a test.

1  Lancet 1996 Apr 20; 347(9008):1006-71

Chocolate no longer works for me…..

Content

There was a time when a bite of deep, dark chocolate could ease the tension of a really bad day.  That’s back when bad days were about the wrong shade of hair color, a broken heel, a long wait for the subway, a husband coming home late from work in a bad mood, or a well-deserved speeding ticket.  As I get older, life seems to throw me more curves.  Hell with curves — it has  thrown me fast, hard balls that hit me point-blank going 65 miles an hour.  Bad days now consist of divorce and lover’s lost, death of beloved family members and  friends, disease and ill-health for myself and others I love.  I now require alcohol with my chocolate.   Sometimes I think if I wasn’t completely allergic to cigarettes I might even consider smoking. Others look so relaxed and thoughtful while drawing in that dark, smoldering vapor.
 

I’m scheduled for surgery on Friday.  I will spend hours in pre-op getting wired for sound by the radiologists and shot full of dye by technicians so that my lump and lymph nodes will light up like an airport runway to guide my surgeon’s hand.  After that, lying naked on a table with my breasts exposed to total strangers,  the anesthesiologist will put an IV in my arm and ask me to count backward.  These skilled strangers won’t see me, the person who lives this life, but only my disease which they will attempt to slice out of me taking along with that tiny piece of flesh an enormous part of the person I am today.

 

One of my good friends wrote, “I know you will get through the operation for your cancer and move on with the good grace and courage that is your hallmark.” If only I could be as certain as she is of my finesse and bravery. I will get through it. That I will do. With the emotional support, and sometimes financial support, of family, friends and loved ones. I will get through it and I hope I will continue to find at least some comfort in chocolate.

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