January 4, 2010, I became a fly on the wall. I was at my surgeon’s getting results from my biopsy. It was supposed to be a quick appointment as the initial needle test of fluid prior to the biopsy was negative for cancer, or so we thought. I remember hearing the doctor telling me “unfortunately it was cancer….” I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I was there but literally watching over my body and the doctor from a distance. My world suddenly changed both physically and mentally.
“Go UP the stairs. Slide DOWN the slide. No, Sweetie. Go UP the STAIRS.” She could barely walk, but she was climbing up the slide. Then, and now. Spend ten minutes at a playground, and the appeal of climbing up the face of the slide is undeniable. I am acutely aware of the dangers of falling off the slide, the risks of children bumping into each other. I vaguely remember falling off a slide, decades ago--one of the old, tall ones—before playgrounds had soft surfaces. I like to see everyone going in the same direction. Up the stairs. Down the slide. Nice, orderly, predictable, and safe.
Your surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments are finished. You think you should be celebrating your return to normal. But you don’t feel the same as you did before your cancer diagnosis. Breast cancer has changed you in many ways: physically, emotionally, spiritually.