I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly odd my life is right now.
I have healed from 2 back-to-back surgeries really well and really quickly which I am going to attribute to the fact that I went into this ordeal physically strong. At my surgical follow-up appointment last week, my surgeon cleared me for all exercise. I asked her, ‘wait, you mean like heavy weightlifting, even? Jumping, running, even push-ups?’ She said yes, to everything.
This shocked me, seeing as though I had a solid chunk of my pectoral muscle removed on January 11 and again on January 23, but if you say so?
I took a few days of intermediate exercise classes before going back to the harder ones I had been doing before, but then I was right back in it. It is eerie how normal I feel.
This brings me to my current quandary… Am I a sick person?
I had 4.6cm of known cancer in my previously mastectomy-ed breast. My breast surgeon said the words, “In my entire career, I have never seen a tumor like yours.” In her ENTIRE career, you guys. She has been doing this for over a decade. Hold please while I google when she graduated residency- Okay, she finished her fellowship in 2012, so yes, over a decade (check her out, she is brilliant and gorgeous). She referred to Greg as a never before seen by her ‘pancaking tumor.’ That’s fucked up, y’all.
The second surgery had clean margins by .1mm. That is not a lot. We also know there was DCIS, pre-cancer, sprinkled around. They were not able to fully assess my lymph nodes because I have already had multiple surgeries on them and I have lymphedema so we can’t say for sure that there is no tiny metastatic disease there either.
It is well within the realm of possibility that I still have active cancerous cells in my body. Heck, I had almost 2 inches of never before seen, pancake-y tumor for who knows how long before diagnosis and I felt healthy as a horse (what does this even mean? Are horses notoriously healthy? Someone reseach this and get back to me please). Breast cancer is weird that way. You can have wicked disease and feel 110% healthy. It is a true mindfuck.
So here I am, waiting on a single pathological test (Oncotype, should be resulted next week sometime), to tell me if I will benefit from chemotherapy. I will undergo radiation for sure and maybe chemo, both of which will make me feel like the bottom of a garbage can. How does one reconcile doing this when you currently feel totally fine?
Multiple times a day I am asked by people with pity in their eyes how I feel. In those moments how I really feel is like an imposter. I feel physically great is the answer, but I have/had cancer so I shouldn’t feel that way. It is confusing to those around me and even more confusing to me.
Am I sick? It depends on your definition of ‘sick,’ I suppose. Do I have a disease that is potentially roaming around my corpus? Yeah, probably. Did I take an expert-level cardio bootcamp class today? I sure did.
What everyone sees on the outside these days is an able-bodied, healthy gal. For the most part that depiction is accurate. My mental health is even pretty good these days. While I wait for the Oncotype and there is nothing cancery to do, I feel like a non-sick person. I sense I will look back at these weeks with wonder and longing for these stable feelings.
What lies beneath my clothes are fresh scars. What lies below that are the emotional scars and the percolating fear of impending treatments that will actually make me sick.
Until I am told otherwise, today, I feel good.