When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and learned that I would need to undergo chemotherapy and radiation after my mastectomy, there was a moment when I realized I would eventually be bald. At that point in my life, my hair wasn’t in particularly great shape. I had stopped coloring it, and wasn’t getting regular haircuts, partly because I couldn’t afford them.
One of the biggest lessons cancer taught me is that it comes in many different forms. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, it is simply not just cancer. There are many different types of breast cancer, and once the type is determined, doctors can decide how best to treat it.
It’s the first really warm day of the season here in the Pacific Northwest, and I should be out doing something in the sunshine. Instead, I am reading one woman’s story about why she stopped participating in breast cancer walks. I am also hungry. After I posted my tale about the rigmarole I’m being forced to go through in order to have weight loss surgery, I made some drastic changes to my diet. I had to come to terms with the fact that this is one battle I will not win unless I lose. Unless of course I miraculously find $50,000 in my travels.
Back in January, I mentioned that after enduring many frustrating months of bureaucratic boondoggle, I received approval from my insurance provider to pursue having weight-loss surgery. The process began in earnest the other day, and like the time spent waiting for corporate bean-counters to give me their official okey-dokey, I’m looking at yet another steep, uphill climb.
I’m coming up on two years of dealing with the breast cancer “experience”, and the more time that passes, the more I am beginning to resent the impact cancer has had on my life. As much as I truly don’t miss having breasts, I sometimes wish I could take leave of my body to prove a point to other women. Life doesn’t revolve around what your breasts, your ass, your legs, and every other body part looks like. You don’t have to be stricken with cancer to attain that mindset.
Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if Kim Kardashian were diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m not wishing evil on her, but I wonder if she would choose to do what’s best for her health rather than compromise it by attempting to preserve a couple of hanging glands that might eventually kill her. Her body is, after all, her golden ticket. Do not attempt to kid yourself by believing society does not value looks above all else. It is obvious that we are more obsessed now than we have ever been.
In honor of National Women’s Day I give you this post, which was also published on Medium.com.
Last week, I had lunch with a writer friend of mine. We met almost two years ago, introduced by a mutual Internet friend who put us together because she had gone through breast cancer surgery and reconstruction, and I was about to embark on a similar journey. We hit it off instantaneously, not because we had illness in common, but because we shared the same perspective about our gender: we are both women who hate other women.
It’s been a particularly busy week in the assholery department, starting off with an unprecedented amount of ignorance towards Syrian refugees, and ending with a dumb blonde (let’s be completely honest here) attempting to convince the world that Charlie Sheen tried to give her AIDS.
I need to preface this post by saying that outside of the old “Wonder Woman” television series from the 70s, I am not a big fan of Marvel Comics and female superhero characters. I’m just not; it’s never been my thing.
It’s no secret that many women have fraught relationships with their bodies (I’m no exception), and our hearing is hypersensitive to comments about them. We can manage to go spontaneously deaf when we are critiqued for our work performance, our parenting skills, and countless other tasks, but god forbid other individuals criticize our bodies; then we’ve got our Miracle Ears turned up to 11.
I’ve been joking quite a bit lately about reaching the “parade float” portion of the breast cancer experience, and it turns out my humor has been spot on. I found out on Thursday that I’ve gained a little over ten pounds since July, and my lymph node-deficient left arm seems to be growing larger by the day. This has lead me to wonder how many Macy’s employees it would take to escort me down Broadway during the annual Thanksgiving Day parade (Snoopy has quite the entourage).
I don’t want to spend the entire month of October harping on the fact that the world goes pink in support of breast cancer awareness. After all, I am aware. It’s different this year because last year, I was in a chemo-induced haze and didn’t really have the strength to give a shit. This year, it is more difficult to escape the pinkness. It is only the third day of the month, and the pervasiveness of pink has invaded every corner of my life.