On September 18, 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, stage III, at the age of 43.
I can honestly say these have been some of my darkest hours. My cancer has become all consuming, inhabits my every thought, and sometimes difficult to keep inside. I cannot scream in rage or cry tears of frustration in the house because of the little ones. They examine my face for any alteration. My therapy is through writing, and I regret if this process, in turn, produces a bother or sorrow on your part. Acceptance has been more challenging than I expected.
This news has really overwhelmed me and crushed my fortitude. I am so angry at my body for letting me down. I tried my best to care for it. I took my vitamins daily, ate my fruits and veggies, and years ago I stopped drinking and any “bad habit” that existed. I went for my physicals, I followed doctors advice, and I was proud of my body. I was amazed at what it accomplished and could do. It produced not one but two masterpieces of art, Mitchell and Lilly. Now I can’t look at it without feeling disgust for it has turned against me. I don’t want to be around the “healthy ones.” I can see why those with leprosy chose to be alone, away from everyone. I feel hollow. I no longer feel one and the same as my peers.
I had a double mastectomy on October 3, 2013, and I started my chemotherapy treatment December 4, 2013. I will complete chemotherapy by the end of May 2014. I am still struggling with what type of breast reconstruction I will proceed with, but I know that will come after my radiation in June. I have spent many days asking why, but through the help of my family, my work family, and my friends I have fought through this difficult battle.
I have spent this weekend at home, not checking email or researching breast cancer until dawn, but with my family. I mean REALLY with them, not just in the room observing. It was medicinal, the exact remedy needed. Ironically, the logic and analysis of a nine year old little boy was the answer to my many questions. Through his interpretation I finally comprehended the meaning of “this” and obtained my lucidity.
I was in bed, waiting for him to fall asleep the other night. I have to admit, I love this time with him. I know the darkness will not be his enemy much longer. He will not ask me to put him to bed, or read him a book, or snuggle close while proclaiming his deep love for me. During this time my big boy becomes my little boy, once again. His hard little edges soften and I see the same eyes returning to me, looking at me, as they once did when he was a baby. Our deepest conversations happen in this hour. I asked him how he was handling all of this stuff going on with mommy? These were the words he said:
“It’s okay Mom, I understand and I’m not too worried because you said God will not give us more than we can handle. I know they can’t stop people from getting cancer, and since there is no stopping it, somebody has to get it. I think it happens to the ones God knows are his strongest and best players. If I was picking my team I would pick you first cause I know you are the strongest and best player.”
There it was, the clarity I was so frantically in search of, given by the greatest philosopher I know, my nine year old son. He has always been a seeker of truth, a thinker, but he will never know how much his thoughtful, but simple theory was the guiding light I needed out of my self-inflicted tunnel of hopelessness. Those beautiful eyes saw, not an overweight and out of shape mom, but the strongest and best “player”. Thank you God for the eyes of a child. It felt like he called me his hero, but in the uncomplicated, effortless words of a little boy. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to hear this in my lifetime. I fell asleep, the last thought; I would have been my son’s first pick on his team if he were the captain! Life is good.
You can read more of what I write in my journal on my Facebook page called: ‘Janelle Wages War Against Breast Cancer’
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.