Monday, May 17, 2010

My Belated Breast Cancer Anger

My acupuncturist told me today that I am tense. “What have you got to be tense about?” she teased. I immediately blamed the two articles I have due in the next week, plus the book I am writing.

But that did not ring true. I have spent my life fighting deadlines. Why would they start bothering me now?

Then, she said, “I think beneath this all there is some anger.”

Bingo.

Four years after my diagnosis, I am finally starting to get royally ticked off that I had cancer. One catalyst for this anger is that I came across the statistics from the National Cancer Institute estimating that 12.7 percent of all women will face breast cancer in their lives. So that means that 87.3 percent of all women will NOT face breast cancer.

After being positive and upbeat and shrugging this thing off for years, I am now starting to ask, “Why me?”

But why now?

I think I used all my positive energy to fight this thing and am only now feeling safe enough to get cranky about being selected for this elite club.

I am also facing my various doctors’ visits and mammograms and blood tests and all the whooha that we all deal with three or four times a year. I am tired of it. Tired of these regular worries about what might come. Are they going to find something this year? Has it come back after all this time?

Remaining positive is wearing on me. My husband says there’s no reason to think they will find anything this time—I am feeling fine and have no symptoms, yada, yada, yada. But, I tell him, if there is no risk, why do they do the tests at all?

And then that ticks me off. I remember so many friends who passed their tests and then ended up with a cough, a bump, a whatever, and the nasty stuff was back.

Yet, others catch something early and take care of it. I have talked with women who are years past a recurrence of triple negative, so a recurrence is not a death sentence.

Because my original diagnosis was not as frightening as most—a small tumor and no positive nodes—I sometimes have felt that I am not as justified in complaining as others. A friend recently told me that somebody had called hers a “fake cancer” because it was hormone positive and less than a centimeter. But, even though she has a better prognosis, she still faces the possibility of cancer returning. We all do. It happened once and we are forever on our guard.

That stinks.

Plus, I wonder, if this did come back, what would I do? Go through chemo again? I am truly not sure. I might just take my savings and hop a plane to travel the world.

In a few days I hope to post an update on being four years cancer-free. Still, I would rather not be dealing with all this at all.

I am pretty sure I am not alone in that feeling.

4 comments:

kim said...

Pat,

I am only 18 months post diagnosis...and I truely understand, especially since I have testing and appointments this upcoming Wednesday. Best wishes for your appointments.

Patricia Prijatel said...

Kim: My mammo and surgeon appointment are on Wednesday, so I will be thinking of you. Perhaps get my mind off my own crankiness. Let's hope for the best for both of us.

jojo said...

"It happened once and we are forever on our guard."

Cancer is never truly over and being on guard is exhausting! It's so hard to forget about cancer and move on with our lives. Yet we can not spend our lives in worry.

I have been reading a book called Living Well Beyond Cancer and it is helping me to process some of my anxiety and anger.

Good you are letting your anger out. Kick, scream, go punch something!

Patricia Prijatel said...

Thanks, Jojo. I will check into that book!