I hate the word Survivor when it applies to me. I don’t feel like I survived. I live with my Breast Cancer and its side-effects each and every day. Cancer is a word that’s used daily in conversation with friends and family alike; it’s the elephant that stands plainly in the room any time I have an appointment with the doctor. When my husband touches the former fat rolls of stomach artfully arranged and attached to my chest to form breasts, Cancer is there. It’s the unavoidable C word. Survivor?
It’s not a word we say.
In the past three years, I’ve had five surgeries with my sixth coming up around the time this issue is published. I’ve done my shots, my chemo. They yell at me to gain weight and do yoga. I see a therapist and a psychiatrist who can’t decide between them if I have PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, ADHD or a little of all the above when it used to be much clearer.
My libido is dead and buried along with the nerves in my chest and stomach. The only time they want to work is to shock me or make me feel like I’m having a damned heart attack, which is a real possibility with the drugs I’m on. My joints hurt, and I’m fairly sure my teeth are shot, but I’m too scared to call the dentist and find out. So, I’ll just take some more Advil.
My kidneys will be fine, right?
I didn’t survive Cancer. I wish I could say I did. I wish I could stand up and say Cancer didn’t defeat me, nor will it! But, I won’t. I feel dirty. I feel as if my body is a traitor that’s about to shortchange me of this life that I love. Each day I wake up and each time I receive a clean bill of health, it’s a small victory. It’s time bought and time that’s cherished.
My therapist tells me these feelings will pass, but my acceptance is a peace I have for now.
Gillian Maul is a writer, witch, chef, cub-wrangler of one and a recent transplant to the Tri-Cities area who’s just trying to find her groove.