My writing on this here blog seems to come to a standstill – languish, and then sputter and start up again for a brief sojourn. This is one such sojourn. In December it will be five years since my breast cancering diagnosis, that arbitrary border of the recurrence danger zone. Though of course there are no guarantees in this life of anything, it is a border I will be happy to cross.
There is still some traffic here on the blog, which makes me remember what it was like to be newly diagnosed and trying to imagine what my life post diagnosis and treatment might be like, if I was lucky enough to make it to the other side. Perhaps by writing every now and again it may provide a bit of hope for someone stumbling across my words in the midst of their journey through the cancering gauntlet. There is in fact life, boring old life, in the world after diagnosis.
In the world of cancering Boring is no insult, it is the preferred state of things. Boring is good. Boring is better than beautiful. Boring means no new lumps and bumps, no new scary symptoms. I’m happy to report that my life is pretty boring these days.
As way of a little update I will say that for the last year things have continued to shift and change in my body and mind. The brain fog seems to be lifting in many ways. The long slow healing of nerves is so slow that it is possible to imagine at times that it has come to a full stop. I try to keep up the magical thinking that things are actually continuing to improve. Every now and again I get weird flashes of sensation in areas that are mostly numb and it gives me reason to be hopeful that my deadened nerves are finding new ways to reconnect to my neural net.
For work I have been very much involved in studio concerns this summer. A joyful state of affairs balanced out with the realities of my diminished stamina. I am as consumed with the fascinating mysteries of dyeing with plants as it is possible to be. My other Blog, Dream Bird Studio, has had a tiny bit more attention than this space, even though Instagram is my preferred communiqué method for my art making. I have been doing a bit of teaching about fiber arts again which feels good, though different. I continue to be thankful to my former self for her excellent record keeping skills. So far my return to work as an artist after so many years has not become the cash flow torrent that I might hope for, but the trickle is helping keep us afloat.
Still frustrated by the neuropathy in my hands that takes away all tactile pleasures, while grateful it does not manifest as pain. Being in the far sliver of percentile with those with persistent neuropathy after treatments is not as fantastic as getting a perfect score on the SAT.
I also do a bit of moonlighting at the bakery about once a week making pastries. Last week I worked as first baker on the shift rather than as the sidekick role I usually play at this stage. Working a full 8 hour shift which started at 4:00 a.m. completely knocked me off my feet for the next 36 hours. That I once routinely worked four or five of those shifts per week, and in those days I usually worked 10-14 hours a day, is a little surreal to me now. Those days are definitely gone. On the plus side after a year of baking again I notice evidence of continued slow improvement of my mental capacities. My much changed brain is trying very hard to recover.
The Russian roulette game that is living in these times with so much cancer continues to get played out in the lives around me. People much loved get diagnosed every few months it seems. Recently a long time friend played his last card at the table, after living with cancer for over 10 years. Cancer continues to be in my thoughts, though perhaps held a bit more firmly to the sidelines, and less the leading role in the story of my life. I try to be gentle with myself when it does come up.
I continue to be happy with my decision not to seek reconstruction, though I have wondered if I would have been a candidate anyway due to the nature of my particular surgery. A question to ask the doctors at some point. I find that for the most part I have settled in to my asymmetry, of one D cup, one side flat. That is until I see pictures of myself. Surprisingly seeing myself naked in the mirror is much easier than seeing photos. For what ever reason this year has been the year to wrestle with my self image around being uneven. My fierce self feels kind of kick ass that I can go about my business just as I am, my more self-conscious self just wants to stay home and hide. The prosthetic breast still makes me feel ill just to think about – which limits my options on soothing those self-conscious parts with a falsie. So more peace keeping is needed around all things post mastectomy.
The wearing of a compression sleeve at least is a normal part of my day now. Much more peace with it. I am grateful that my lymphedema is so easily controlled – this summer has had the least swelling so far. Those moments when I have over done it in some way and have had extra swelling, now act as a reminder to be kind to my changed body, rather than the trigger for frustration and anger they once were.
Life in these last months until I cross that arbitrary border in December is pretty boring. and boring is good. May your life be equally uneventful.