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Disbelief and reframing

May 12, 2018

I wish I had written yesterday. I stayed awake all day on Thursday a was feeling hopeful. Like, if I’m feeling better already, I’ll just keep feeling better and I’ll get through this. And I still do feel hopeful in that way. I’ve just had a lot of moments in the last couple days where I’m still in disbelief that this is my reality.

It’s been 5 weeks since my surgery. I’ve adjusted to living with one breast, but I am not at all used to only having one breast. It still catches me off guard sometimes when I take my bra off, or when one of the girls lay their head on me and it’s right on my ribs.

It seems like some people are confused about what’s so distressing about losing a breast (and I know it isn’t distressing for everyone.) For me, it’s not about my femininity or my sexuality. I’m still me, thankfully. It’s just that a whole part of my body that I’ve had for 20 ish years (saying I had boobs in my late teens may be a stretch) is gone. How long would it take for your pinky to be gone before you stopped noticing and missing it? Or your belly button?

Along with those feelings of disbelief are the ones where I can’t believe I’m going through chemo. I’ve been anti-chemo my whole life. I know that isn’t fair since chemo has saved many lives, but that’s how I felt. I used to think there was always another way. How could poisoning yourself really be the best option? And while we’re at it, I was so opposed to hormone therapy. Why would I want to cause hot flashes and weight gain and decreased sex drive? (I have kids for that!) When I was presented with these options in the fall, I couldn’t even consider them. Yet somehow, I’ve come to a point in my health, where these are the best options for me.

So this week, while I languished in the (thankfully mild) effects of chemo, there were a lot of “what is going on and how did I end up here?” thoughts. How does my best life involve me with one breast and chemo coursing through my veins? But it does.

Then today, I was really tired. The girls stayed up late and woke up early. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was impatient and frustrated. I’m functioning like half a mother when I want to be 100%. There are some behavior things that feel like they need to be handled better, but I don’t have the energy, so I just get mad. I get mad that Jonathan isn’t doing everything and mad that he has to do everything.

Then I realize that this is going to be our normal for a good long while. That’s hard. Because otherwise, I was sick earlier this week and I’m getting better now. But I’m not. I’m going to go through this over and over. And that makes me really sad.

My little sister left with all of the girls, and it was time to rest. That’s when I had another unpleasant realization – I hate resting. And this is a week after our church retreat where we focused on rest and quiet. On Sabbath. I’m so bad at it. I’d rather be doing stuff. Getting shit done. I’m not made to sit around in bed all day. I mean, it doesn’t help that I can’t really focus on reading or doing anything mentally stimulating right now.

But I have to learn to. As Jonathan reminded me, resting is my job right now. I know that sounds heavenly for so many of us, but it isn’t when it’s forced on me. One of my cousins told me the other day, “Think of all the times you wished you could get more sleep…now is your chance. Let your body put its energy towards fighting & healing. There will be better days to come.”

My older sister asked me today what lazy/productive activities I liked, and suggested that if I could find something to do while resting, I might enjoy it more. So far, I thought of online shopping, but after viewing my post-surgery haul, that isn’t sustainable. (I may have bought a new bed and some art.) I actually went through my closet, did my style school homework, and did some stuff on the computer which was chill but satisfying. I do need to reframe my thinking about the next few months. Recognize that we are in this for a good chunk of time so I need to figure out how to make it work. Figure out that balance between wishing it away and missing out on life.


I cut my hair this morning. All my haircuts are the most anticlimactic pre-chemo buzzes. They’re just haircuts. I wonder if this will be the last one or if I’ll cut it again next week. I heard it starts falling out after the second treatment, and since I usually cut it once a week, I should have at least one more cut between now and then.

The rest of me feels pretty normal. My mouth feels funny sometimes, but I’ve mostly been able to eat all my meals and enjoy them. I’m still drinking coffee. I’ve been swishing coconut oil for 10 minutes at a time several days, which is supposed to help prevent/heal mouth sores. (Why is it called oil pulling??)

So here we are. One week down, and I’m not counting how many to go.



One Comment leave one →
  1. Mary Beth Puerto permalink
    May 12, 2018 19:49

    1. I like the stripes the best
    2. I have an extra pair of knitting needles – you could start on a pair of slippers for your resting
    3. Even when it feels like 50% of you, everyone knows you are giving the 100% that your body can muster. And your girls know that. And God has prepared them in the same way he is preparing you – in ways you can’t see and won’t see until hindsight reminds you of His faithfulness
    4. Keep listening to your husband and practice the ever challenging and elusive “rest” (says the girl who had a relative visiting for a week for the sole purpose that she could rest…and said girl may have stayed up during quiet time to encouraged relative to nap, totally defeating the purpose of the visit…but, hey, my closet is clean!)

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