365 days ago I was watching television on the couch. Laying on my side, and with fists tucked under my armpits I felt a lump in my left breast.
I had no family history of breast cancer (that I knew of). I was in my thirties and would not even think of breast screening for over a decade. I had small breasts and it never ever occurred to me that breast cancer would set up shop inside my body.
So I made a doctor’s appointment for four weeks later and in the meantime went on holiday. The lump kept whispering to me in that month and I would have discreet squeezes to see if it was still there; in the shower, at the checkout, at the children’s playground. It would be fine. I would have it inspected in January when my women’s health doctor was back from holidays.
Today, 365 days later, as we travel for our annual holiday to Western Australia, I reflect on my “lumpiversary”. The anniversary of the day my life changed forever.
Today, I have very thin short hair with a sort of male patterned baldness. My left armpit is tender and tight when I reach for things. And for the rest of my life I need to prevent trauma to my arm to try and reduce the chance of lymphedema. I am totally numb around my chest. To touch my expanders and nipples hurts. I can’t hug people with the same joy and intimacy as I used to. This is particularly distressing when I think of what this feels like to my children. I have crooked nipples. I have gained weight. I have severed nerves that are regenerating and sometimes they shoot fireworks down my arms and across my clavicle area. There are other weird sensations that my brain is learning to make sense of. I have less fitness as a result of three surgeries, chemo and rads. I sleep very long hours at night. I experience mental fog and extreme fatigue. I have lost some of my memory and have a reduced IQ. I am experiencing the symptoms of menopause at an age nearly twenty years earlier than my Mum. And sadly, I will not have anymore children. But the lump is gone. And the remaining cancer cells were dealt the most severe treatment blow.
And today, I am here to travel to see Mr Cool’s attempt at Ironman finish number eleven, see my kids again play chasy on the beach and make more happy memories with my family.
I have been shown a lot of generosity and love this year. A much brighter light has shone and a positive energy force has radiated through all of the darkness and negativity of cancer. There have been some profound life lessons and there is still much healing and work to be done for me and my family.
I am grateful to be living.
So poignant. I’m sure like me, you are just waiting for 2013 to end. I love what you said about positive energy force. I had my double mastectomy 12 days ago. I saw a psychologist a few days prior and her take home message to me was all about my personal energy and how it’s the positive energy in me that my friends relate to, not my physical appearance.
Unfortunately I’m back in hospital – massive infection around an expander. Had surgery Mon night to remove expander, douse in Betadine and flush every thing out before putting back in and blasting me with high dose antibiotics. So far so good, but at the first sign of regression expander will be removed. The veins have all collapsed in my one useable arm…11 jabs with a needle in the past 14 hours. We are pretty resilient beasts, aren’t we, with an enormous capacity for healing; it takes a lot to stop our life force.
We’re heading to the beach for a few weeks in Jan, and once we’ve stopped and licked the wounds of the past year for a bit, we’ll soak in the sun and enjoy nature and fresh air and take a new start in 2014.
Enjoy your holiday and your family and sun and surf. Here’s to good health and happy times in 2014.
Continue to heal and make good memories… I visited Western Australia this year and loved it..
Grateful that you took that lump seriously, Lisey. Have a wonderful trip with your family. I wish you continued healing and strength.
FUC! Bring on 2014!