Wednesday was one year from when I got diagnosed with breast cancer. I noted it, and I'm glad to have put it a whole year behind me, but I don't really want to see that date etched in marble. It's funny, I can think about and remember my surgery, which was March 30, or the weeks and months of chemo, or having 28 days of radiation treatments, without any pain. By the time we were doing those things, we were in a state of purposeful action. I don't feel bad thinking of those times. I even feel proud. After all, everything went well, and a lot of good things happened too. Like, I don't think about chemo without remembering what a great summer we had--so many fun mountain weekends and so many tubing trips down the river--but when I think about the shock and newness of that diagnosis, and the time leading up to my surgery, where every day lasted a week, I shrink up a little inside.
To celebrate (?) I had to go down to the surgeon's office yesterday for a mammogram. I knew she wanted to see me in March, so like a good girl, I scheduled the appointment. As soon as I'd done it, I felt fear. I knew everything would be fine, but I just didn't want to go. That night I had this conversation with Matt. I paraphrase:
Me: Why does everything suck so much?
Matt: Um, which things honey? Because actually everything is awesome.
Me: I don't know. Things.
Matt: This is about having to go get a mammogram.
Me: Yes. I guess that's what is sucking. I'm cool with everything else.
So it had me in a funk. But guess what? I went and it was fine. When you're having a mammogram of only one side, it doesn't take as long. Bonus. And the radiologist read it right there and then the nurse came and told me it was all clear. Then she said the radiologist wanted to meet me. I was like, "Of course he does! Having seen that, come on!" But it was a chick and she was very sweet. Then I was on my way, relieved.
I'm not really worried about the other breast anyway. I'm worried about having a metastatic recurrence somewhere else in my body. I say I'm "worried," but it's not that I'm losing sleep. More that this possibility, sometimes a dread, is now part of my new normal mental landscape.
I have several magical beliefs, though, about keeping the cancer from coming back that I'm acting on:
1) I feel that if I exercise regularly, the cancer won't come back.
2) I feel that if I eat good whole foods, the cancer won't come back.
Those are the two main ones. Then we get into a still more magical realm. I have lots of beliefs about things like green tea, a robust social network, cabbage, and having a grateful heart that I will not inflict upon you right now, but we can talk about it if you want to.
One that might interest you is my now almost paranoid avoidance of BPA. You know, the stuff that is everywhere in plastics and can linings? Okay, avoiding it in cans is not paranoid, it's just good sense. We don't eat anything out of cans anymore unless I know the canning process to be BPA-free (very few of them are). But lately I've been reading about how BPA is present in much greater amounts on cash register receipts. The thermal printing process that a lot of stores use has a powdered form of BPA coating the paper, activating the ink. Have we gone crazy that we are putting this stuff everywhere?
Anyway, so when the cashier says, "Would you like your receipt?" I say no thanks. And if they automatically hand it to me with my change or whatever?
I drop it on the floor. Yes.
I just haven't figured out a way to say, "You know, no thanks, that is covered with a toxic endocrine disruptor and I don't want to touch it, but you hang on to it." So I just let it flutter to the floor.
Now you know everything, reader. At the beginning of this post you were probably all on my side and now you think I'm a litterbug. I have some good qualities though. I hope you'll stick around for another year at least.