When I was a teenager, I wished my active imagination would always stay vivid. Unfortunately, that wish came true. *** Being diagnosed and treated for cancer unleashes a maelstrom of emotions. But lately I have been wondering if a cancer experience heightens our imagination. We imagine our deaths. We imagine our physical pain and suffering even before we … Continue reading the story "Cancer and the Imagination"
Post Archives from the ‘Aftermath’ Category
I look at the doctor. Worried. Things have not been going well. She remains calm, but it hardly reassures me. Even though I’m not the patient, each visit is traumatic, and I can’t seem to calm down. “Don’t cry in front of her,” I tell myself on most visits, though I know the veterinarian would understand. The patient is Hemi, my tuxedo cat – and his … Continue reading the story "Ups and Downs"
Pre-cancer, I was sturdy, strong, resilient. I reached far into the sky, living the myth that mortality was far, far away, especially since I took excellent care of my body. Like many young people, I believed I wouldn’t have to confront death for a long time. I had incredible amounts of energy and an amazing memory, and I was in excellent physical shape, being an avid … Continue reading the story "Aging Ungracefully"
“Oooh, that’s one creepy-looking dinosaur!” I told my wide-eyed-but-ready-for-bedtime daughter. “Then read about it, Mommy!” she laughed, pointing at the ferocious dinosaur in one of her favorite books. “Honey, I’m so glad they are extinct.” “Otherwise, they would chase us and eat us?” “Yes, I’m sure.” She yawned. “I’m glad they are extinct, too,” as she rolled over to sleep. It’s now midnight, and I’ve been trying to sleep for hours, … Continue reading the story "Dinosaurs"
Upon hearing that I am cancer-free thus far, people flippantly ask me if I’m now used to the "new me" or the “new normal.” I’m sure they mean well, but I really don’t know what they mean. They are tossing about meaningless phrases. I don’t like being typecast into nonsensical words like the "new me" and “new normal” because -- even if cancer is not … Continue reading the story "The New Abnormal"
In a previous post, I said I was too scared to write what I deemed a risky piece on my blog. This is that post. Throughout my pre-cancer life, many people have admired my fortitude and tenacity. Tarnished by life’s traumas, I still kept my platinum mind focused. Many folks used to tell me I was the strongest person they knew: No matter how difficult … Continue reading the story "Matter Over Mind"
Not long ago, Marie Ennis O’Connor of Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer posed an excellent question on one of her posts; she inquired what our particular style of illness was. She based this question on Anatole Broyard’s book Intoxicated By My Illness, where the author says, “Every seriously ill person needs to develop a style for his illness.” I left the following comment on her … Continue reading the story "Survivorship by Design"
To date, my most popular post is First Comes Breast Cancer, Then Comes Divorce. This post resonated deeply with many women who wrote candidly about their difficult marital situations. Reading their comments was heartbreakingly painful. I could hear my readers’ isolation, loneliness, fear -- and, of course, grief. And I realized that, although I wrote a second part in this series, which expressed … Continue reading the story "Divorce and Grief"
Reconstruction has saved me. I’m not referring to my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. I’m talking about the transformation of my hospital’s Cancer Care Center, where I received my treatments and followups, to the now-named Center for Advanced Care, where I receive followup care. Years ago, I first met my oncologist in the Cancer Care Center, a very ordinary, depressing sort of building with few … Continue reading the story "A Kinder, Gentler Reconstruction"