The powers that be decided I needed therapy. To be completely politically incorrect-I needed my head shrunk.It’s not that I didn’t care that I had cancer. I did. I was having it taken care of. But in the scheme of my life, stage 1 cancer, which had been thoroughly removed from my breast, and had not spread, was not a big deal. I am not certain why they didn’t understand that.
Months earlier I had buried my mother who was killed in a car accident. I was bogged down in her estate and dealing with all the legalisms that involve a sudden death, including selling her house in Florida. In fact, it would take me a year before I started to mourn her passing (grief counselors say that that is actually more common than not). The hubby had just been shafted at work, and if we had started to recover from losing everything in 2008 during the great recession, that was not only over, but it had just gotten worse. The boys could not find jobs, even the one with a masters degree in computer science. So, I was dealing with two autistic youngmen who had done everything right in life, and yet life was leaving them behind, before their world ever even got started.
Truly, the luckiest part of my life at the moment was the fact that my cancer was ONLY stage 1. I didn’t think there was any need to look a gift horse in the mouth. In fact, I had intelligently ignored the latest wisdom of the gatekeepers of our health, which told women that they didn’t need to get a mammogram every year. They insisted that we could skip a year and all would be fine. That in the ensuing year, if we thought something was funny, we should just go see our doctor.
Now if I had been stupid enough to listen to them, by the time they would have found my cancer, since it was embedded deep in my very ample bust, it would have been a life-threatening event, rather than merely an inconvenience. It amazes me how cavalier these know-it-alls are when it comes to women’s health. Because most mammograms and biopsy results are negative women can take their lives in their hands in order to save insurance companies some money. How nice of them. I love how they term it as if it’s a benefit for women, by saying they are reducing our anxiety by not having us go yearly for mammograms. Seriously. They think we buy into that stupidity. Sometimes I wonder in which century these elites really exist.
You know they didn’t guillotine people because people were treated with respect by those in power. Just saying its something the elites should think about every now and again.
They decide that since 90% of biopsies are negative that there is absolutely no reason for women to put themselves through the “anxiety” of a biopsy, or mammogram every year. Of course, they ignore the reality that someone like me actually had a negative biopsy, and I was given a choice to watch the area, or remove it, since on the molecular level the cells looked iffy. The doctor said that most likely the cells would not turn to cancer, and if I had wanted to wait and see what would develop that was acceptable.
Not being a shy flower, I told them to take it out. Then during the post-surgical biopsy they found the cancer. The doctor told me that what happened to me is very rare. Just like my contracting an infection after surgery. Both were statistical anomalies, and it was my karma to have both happen to me. After that, I told her to stop telling me what is rare, since every time she mentions a rare episode, it happens to me. Of course, she good naturedly laughed, but I also meant it.
So after healing from the infection, and radiation therapy, I am now on a daily dose of preventative medicine, and doing my best to eat healthier, exercise and not worry too much about the future. After all, we can only do what we can do in order to live a good and healthy life. If fate has other ideas for us, then there really is very little we can do about it, the angel of death will meet you at Samarra no matter how hard you try to outrun him.
But back to the conundrum that the doctors at the cancer center couldn’t get over that I wasn’t freaked out or scared about having cancer. In all honesty, I figured that they were watching me. That I had a team of people keeping an eye on my life, and that if something bad was going to happen to me, then because of the oversight we would once again catch it. I learned, if I had not known it before, that being fastidious when dealing with your own health is really the way to stay safe, and the way to stay ahead of disease.
In the end, I did go to several appointments with the therapist. He too was slightly mystified about my reaction to my cancer diagnosis. I suppose they had never had anyone like me. We actually spent the time talking about what was weighing heavily on my heart, and that was having had lost my mother in the violent way that she died. I learned that you do have to compartmentalize what is, and is not important, and what you can and cannot control.
Meanwhile, I was given a 1 year clean bill of health last January. I am going for my yearly mammogram next week and will be cancer free year 2 in January-fingers crossed.
Now, I will admit that sometime last year I became frightened about the cancer returning. In all honesty, I am more concerned that my sons are not ready to be on their own, and the hubby just doesn’t take care of himself. His sense of security is that I am going to outlive him, and that the life insurance provided will take care of me and the boys for the remainder of our lives.
I suppose it gives him some kind of comfort. It simply annoys me. But don’t tell him. The truth is that he too needs to be ready for what may be a curveball. You don’t have to die from disease. A car can come out of nowhere, and the driver could not put on their brakes in enough time before they smash into your auto so hard that it is totaled and your brain is turned to mush. Thus, ending your future, and all of your plans. (It just so happened that the week before she died, we had decided that mom would sell her house in Florida and come live with us.)
In the end, I think I have come to the conclusion that preparing the boys for their future is the way to keep myself sane. Making certain that if anything happens then they are ready. Keeping Wills and Trusts updated. Information updated and reviewed is all that we can do. Teaching them the ins and outs of life is also important. Setting up a system where they will be cared for if we are gone is also something that will help us sleep at night….well not perfectly, but maybe. And understanding that sometimes you can’t control everything. However, we can try to think of everything that leaves very little to chance. Of course, that still puts a lot in other people’s hands, which is something that in and of itself is rather disconcerting.
In the ensuing time period from my diagnosis and recovery though things have gotten better. Well our financial situation is still really precarious. We are doing our best to dig ourselves out, unfortunately life and the medical needs of the boys are not cooperating. But we are trying. Yet, the boys are doing better. The computer scientist just finished an extensive internship, and is almost finished with a second masters in software engineering. The younger one has had two internships ,and will hopefully graduate with his masters in May of next year.
As for me, I keep plugging away at what needs to be done. Trying to plan for the next 4 decades of my life, because you can bet I am so not going to go gently into that good night. The problem is, and has been since I was in my 20s and my education decisions took a wrong turn, that I have never really figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Meanwhile, my everyday job is still my everyday existence, keeping and maintaining some form of harmony in the household. What we call in Hebrew “Shalom Bayit,” or a peaceful home. It’s not always successful, but it is a goal for everyone in our realm.
You have to know that working on keeping everyone happy, healthy and organized is an interesting job. Supporting them as they build their futures, and trying to create a future for myself is a challenging mystery. The only thing I can think of is to keep on keeping on. Trying to figure out a new angle, a side hack, or a way to promote what is good and righteous in your person.
Businesses fail, as mine did. Careers do not work out as they should. Money becomes a never-ending issue. But as long as you are alive, healthy and sentient, then that is all you need. Once you have all of that, the rest can be thought out in a logical, circumspect and practical way. Sort of, anyway. There is always the digression into self-pity, conspiracsm, and scapegoating. After all, we are all human and do have fall backs as to why things are not working out as they should…. right? Then of course you remember you are a grown up and stop being an asshat. You pick yourself up by your bootstraps, and try to figure out a way out of the dark tunnel.
So, in the end, I know I didn’t need therapy. I just figure that the doctors and social workers never met anyone who was grateful to only be a little sick….