Cancer has not invaded my brain, as far as I know. Yet my brain is most definitely affected. Last weekend, as moving from diagnosis to treatment was taking forever, I villanized my doctor at Sloan. When I called her it was not her but her nurse who returned the call – how dare they! My next appointment was another week and a half away – how dare they! She was going to be away for a week in mid-February – how dare her! I could not wait until March! Although I realized there were likely other patients with more time-sensitive situations, they weren’t me, sitting here knowing I had cancer while hardly anyone else knew, going to work & trying not to think about it as something serious when deep down I knew it was. I now refer to this state of mind as my “Have a nice day moment.” My sister Gail described a moment during her breast cancer journey when a technician said “Have a nice day,” but she heard, “Have a nice day because it’s the last one your going to have for a long time.” The tech didn’t say that, Gail’s brain said that. Cancer had invaded her brain. She explained: because you are hanging on every word your medical team says, trying to understand and make sense of things, you turn crazy. So last weekend was my “Have a nice day” moment, when I turned crazy and convinced myself that my doctor didn’t care about me and that it would be spring before treatment got underway.
But this weekend all that has changed. I’ll have surgery in 4 days, and I’ll start chemo while I’m recovering. Now the reality of my situation is suddenly upon me. I’ll have drains for my lymph fluid until my body misses my breast and reduces production. I will have a salt water filled plastic bag where my breast used to be, tucked under my chest muscle, which will be stretched to accommodate the material of my choice (my own abdominal tissue, or a silicone or saline implant, yet to be decided) in an attempt at normalcy. For the past few weeks, including my “Have a nice day moment” last weekend, yoga helped to resolve the lump in my throat. But now, for the “paws of fear” upon my chest, only Xanax can soothe that beast.