From the monthly archives:

April 2016

Almost ten years have passed since my initial diagnosis of “infiltrating ductal carcinoma.” So far, I have survived both my breast cancer and my texting while driving. But please don’t refer to me as a “survivor.” That would imply that I had something to do with my, up till now, favorable outcome. It would also imply that my less fortunate cancer sisters  “failed.” I did not fight my cancer valiantly. I was neither strong nor brave. I squirmed, fidgeted, and freaked out every step of the way.

When it comes to cancer, I do not believe in mind over matter. I don’t think you can stop your cancer cells from spreading any more than you can will yourself to fly or learn Mandarin in your sleep.  I accept that I have been incredibly lucky, so far. I am mindful that others have not been as lucky.

I discovered my tumor fairly early. I did not procrastinate too long before I did something about it, a couple of months at the most. My cells were not of the most aggressive kind. I was hormone positive. I escaped both full mastectomy and chemotherapy. I tolerated my aromatase inhibitors well. (In fact, on me the hormone suppressors worked like phen phen. I effortlessly lost some weight, instead of packing on the pounds like many middle-aged women sometimes do.)  I had access to a first rate cancer center. I had a good health insurance. Even so, my cancer “episode” cost me more than $17,000 out of pocket. Most importantly, I was already post-menopausal. I was not robbed of my fertility and my youth.

I have been left with only two external scars: one hairline crack in the twelve o’clock position on my right breast. (Good job, Dr. Guru!) And I have a tattoo that looks like a stabbed myself with a ballpoint pen between my breasts. My internal scars are beginning to fade also. I no longer assume that a headache means that I have brain metastasis. Now when something rattles under my hood, I am back to thinking it is “nothing” rather than “something.”

The Sophists say that “Life is a dream and death is waking up.”  Admittedly, nothing gets your full attention like a possible death sentence. At first,  it puts your mind in a freeze frame mode, then it sharpens your senses and helps you get your priorities straight.

At least for a while.