Eleven years ago today I had a mastectomy. Up until that time the only reason I ever needed to see a doctor was for the occasional infection after a cold. These days, I have to book a double appointment because I have multiple issues. Having breast cancer changed my life significantly in many ways. The hardest being the changes in my body as a result of the treatments, and coping with the loss of dear friends to the same cancer, facing the reality of my own mortality.
Many good things have happened because I had breast cancer though. I’ve made amazing friends I would probably have never met otherwise. I have developed more tolerance towards the little annoyances in life. I appreciate each and every year I have on this earth, and have a different perspective than I did eleven years ago. I still struggle with the things my body does and doesn’t do since that diagnosis. Some days I struggle more than others, and sometimes probably I could deal with better than I actually do.
A few years after the mastectomy, and had reconstruction. I no longer needed to wear a prosthetic breast, and no longer had to worry about the fake one falling out of my clothes – and yes that actually happened. The worst part was at the end of the day, changing for bed. Some days I’d totally forget about cancer and that I no longer had a right breast. It was a particularly rude reminder when the prosthetic would fall out onto my feet. Since reconstruction that doesn’t happen, and as time passed the new breast no longer seems new – it’s just another part of me. Even the scars have faded. I wish that the rest of my body could have had a similar event that just makes all the annoying issues I’ve had to cope with go away or fade into the background.
So today I raise a glass and ponder that after 11 years I’m still here. Not in the best of condition, but damn, I’ve made it to a milestone in some ways I never thought I’d see.
I wrote the above this morning while I had my cup of coffee and hadn’t yet started my day. As is often the case, I sometimes fall back to sleep and today was no different, aside from one exception. I had an extraordinary dream that started with a music video showing an ordinary road which slowly changed over time and by the end of the song it was as if the viewer was in a different world or country. Buildings and landmarks were all very differently shaped and coloured. My dream switched to me walking the road back from the unusual to where I’d started, looking for where the dividing line might be such as a road sign about entering a new place or a flag or something. In my dream, it was a flag. There were flags along the entire route every mile or so, up on the utility poles. Where the change took place the flag was different. Again my dream changed and I was at ‘home’ where I grew up in Shields, Mi. I was talking to my step father Bill about the place I’d just been in the dream and telling him how interesting my day had been. In reality, Bill died years ago and I doubt I’d ever had such an interesting coversation with him, but the feeling of having an interesting day and seeing so many strange and unusual things stayed with me when I woke up. I’ve always hated the word ‘journey’ in association with breast cancer, but it’s a bit hard after writing the above and the dream I had no to realise that it has been and will probably continue to be a long strange trip. In the dream, the music was something by Queensryche but the visuals were right out of a Yes album cover. I love my mind at times. It can put the most interesting mashes of things together.
Again, a toast to 11 years. May the next 11 have less health issues and more fascinating roads that lead to truly interesting places.