I’m telling everyone. How am I going to do that? Why do I want to tell some and not others? Maybe I can just text everyone—get it out of the way all at once. Or would that be inconsiderate? Does that even matter to me?
How do I make this light? Can I help people see the positive? “I’m getting new boobs, what size should I get?” That’s a good opener.
I begin with five specific people, not knowing that they will become the five pillars of my life. They’ll also disseminate the news to the rest of my friends and family so I don’t have to keep repeating these words: “I have breast cancer, but it’s okay; I’ll be fine.” Why can't everyone just accept that?
Why is everyone shocked? Why do I always end up reassuring people? Why am I helping everyone else deal with my diagnosis? They’re taking this harder than I am, and I’m the one who’s facing this reality. Am I downplaying the severity of this truth?
And then it’s time to tell my boys. This one’s going to be a little bit tougher. How do I keep my boys from becoming scared about losing their mom? I guess I’ll approach it like the rest: “I got a little cancer to get rid of, and I have to get some new boobs as a bonus!” The gravity of this sentence starts to sink in as I watch their faces change. What I hear back is, “Mom, are you gonna die?” “Hell no! I’m not done bugging the shit out of the three of you just yet!”
“OK then, are you sure?”
“Is that all?”
“Can we get back to our video games?”
Wow, that went better than I expected but maybe it stings a bit. That’s it? Nothing more? Then I remember they are teenagers and selfish self centered boys! It’s also possible that teenage boys don’t want to talk about their mom’s boobs.
Knowing my children and how they individually deal with stress, I can see that this has not clearly sunk in so I’m expecting very different reactions from all three as time goes on. I’ll deal with those as they come.
In the midst of all this uncertainty, I sent this message to my niece to try and help make sense of it:
“The biggest challenge I’m having with this situation is not the diagnosis, not the mountain I’m about to start climbing; no, it’s the reactions of people who are offering their best but are also scared. I understand that fear but for me I see it as a challenge I’m going to conquer. A chance to renew myself and the opportunity to really look at my life and see what I want to make of it…
“Am I where I want to be? There’s a world of opportunity and possibilities out there and I’m not gonna let them just slip by. I’m not worried about the outcome because I know what it’s going to be. I’m kind of excited about what it’s going to bring to me. I’m getting new boobs and maybe I’ll end up with a tummy tuck. I’ll get a whole new body! In the meantime eating healthy and exercising. This has helped me meditate more, and it’s really placed my head where it needs to be. Maybe it’s a blessing. It seems strange to some and I think that’s where my challenge lies. So if you want to talk to me about it, I’m ready, but you have to look at it from my perspective . It’s all positive! I am standing at a crossroads and I need to make a choice…
“I have cancer but I picked the right one… It’s the only one that gives back!”