It's a whole new me. And there will be no looking back. My late onset wave of grief (which is like the later onset cognition issues) was validated by a wonderful doctor who is an active part of the twitter community. This is the wonder of the internet and how a circle of strangers can become like family. I, the very wordy one, in 140 characters (including spaces) said to no one in particular that it was a painful day as I was re-living five years ago. Dr. Attai, a prominent California breast surgeon responded to the tweet:
It has to come out sometime. Often it is later than you expect, and then it seems so much worse & unexpected. You'll be okShe was not the only one who responded. Several of my sister survivors who happened to be online at the time sent me words of encouragement. Sometimes, ya just don't feel like talking. Even ME. But, I didn't really feel like being alone with these feelings either. Their words got me through a dark moment. I think it's easier to really listen when we are using our eyes rather than our ears. You will have to digest those words with your eyes. Think about it, get back to me. I think it makes lots of sense.
Validation is so important. It's what makes me realize I'm not completely crazy. I'm pretty sure I would have been beating myself up today if not for those words. And then, I took the time to reflect upon all of the events that unfolded in my life in the past five years. I was on "auto pilot" so of course, I didn't take the time to grieve. There was no time for grief. I was simply too busy. Today, I am acutely aware of staying centered.
I am also very much aware of my limitations and I, through conversations with others in these two short months, realize what's in my head is in the heads of plenty of other women. We need to get a better conversation started so things can change.
There are things that happen when you become a "survivor" and the whole concept has been largely ignored. Chemobrain is just one thing that affects an unknown number of people. Journeying through life as a cancer survivor is another thing that is being ignored. The treatment may be over, but it's not over for the survivor. We are still living with a disease. It's not a chronic condition as some would have us believe. It's an INCURABLE disease until it's not. You can ask my mom how she felt for twenty years every time she had to go for a mammography. I'm sure you can ask ANY breast cancer patient how she feels around mammography time. You can ask my friend Marie.
Survivors are "victims of success" in the words of Dr. Len's article on the American Cancer Society website. It's time we are all on the same page. For all cancer patients, no words mean more than to be able to say "I am a survivor!" But, dismissing the reality that is "survivorship"..... just read on and form your own opinions. You can get back to me on this, too.
They sound like pretty convincing fighting words if ya' ask me.....