Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Cancer in my boob is also a Cancer in my life. (From May 4th, 2008)

The thing about being diagnosed with cancer, is that it's not just your health that it effects. It touches every part of your life. And the lives of the people closest to you. And sometimes the lives of people who are just near you.

Here's what I mean;

If anyone you know has been through this before - particularly if they have watched someone else go through this fight, and have watched them lose they react the most dramatically. They will have been in this battle from the losing side and will not easily see the possibility of victory. When I was a teenager and my best friend's brother committed suicide the school brought in a grief councilor. The councilor spoke to the students and said that when someone dies in a certain way it brings back the grief from every other person you know who died that way. My husband, Kurt's mother lost a long battle with cancer 24 years ago. When I found out that I have cancer (and even when I was going for the ultrasound on what I still thought was a fibroadinoma) I knew that the hardest thing in the world was going to be to tell my father-in-law that I had cancer. When Kurt told him, the day I was diagnosed, he reacted more strongly and more dramatically than any one of us. More than me, more than Kurt, more than my mom.

But a person doesn't have to be related to me for the grief part of this diagnosis to split old wounds wide open. I used to be on a Roller Derby team, and one of my team-mates lost her brother to cancer. She left me a message today offering me her support and her perspective as someone who has had to watch this battle from the other side. I can imagine how I would feel were I in her position.

Aside from the emotional impact of cancer on the lives of other people there is the practical impact. I'm sure that most British Colombians don't know that there are several important bills up for debate in the Legislative Assembly, that are on hold because of my diagnosis. My mother, who is an opposition critic, has had to get permission to be away from the Leg. and find substitutes to take her place so that she can take me to appointments. My sister, has arranged to drop everything (leave her job and her children) to drive down and be with me at a moment's notice when I go for my surgery. My mother-in-law, has already once called in a substitute teacher to cover her class so that she could look after my daughter while I was getting my MRI.

But while the cancer in my boob is threatening my life, it also threatens my world. I was supposed to be getting ready to move right now. I was supposed to be in Vancouver this week looking for a place to live. My husband started his new job two weeks before my diagnosis. He works in Vancouver during the week and then comes home on the weekends (1 1/2 hours on a ferry and over an hour driving). This commuting schedule was supposed to last two months. Now it will be extended at least until I am done with radiation. The costs associated with trying to maintain 1 1/2 homes and my husband's travel expenses, on top of already being in debt because of Kurt having just finished school and me being in this place of employment limbo (I just came off maternity leave then gave my notice because I was leaving town and then decided not to work my last three weeks because of a cancer diagnosis) is putting extra stress on me personally, and on our already stressed relationship. And I don't know what effect all this is having on my 13 month old. It's hard to tell if the interruptions in her sleep schedule are a normal part of the fact that she is teething and discovering everything about her world and trying so hard to talk; or if it is simply because all these appointments are messing with her schedule or if it's all a response to everything that is going on. All I know is that she wakes up in the night and she doesn't seem to want anything. She just wants to be held by mama.

So what do you do? I am trying to prevent this affliction from taking over my life. I want to make sure that it has the least possible impact on my life. But it is very hard. I want to continue breast feeding my baby. And there is a way to do it, but getting the information I need to make an informed decision is proving very difficult, and seems to be mucking up the treatment scenario. I want to go to be where my husband is, but my family and my support system is here. I want to get this whole thing over with, but "the fast track" is still very slow, and while it seems like I've been dealing with this for months, it's really been less than two weeks. I'm in this place where I feel like I have no control over anything in my life, and I need to get that control back. It may be the only way I can stay sane through the recovery process.

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