When I was growing up, I thought I would never have children. It’s not that I didn’t want children. No, I had elaborate adoption plans – which baby at which of my ages/homes/etc. Labor and delivery? No way! No, thank you. Never going to happen.
Things change. I went from that attitude, to the queen of natural childbirth. No epidurals for me, no thank you.
I had my girl. I knew right then I wanted about 4 children. Four years later, I had my boy.
I guess I must have already known about my hitchhiker, even then. The first time I asked for prophylactic surgery was in the labor and delivery room. The second time was 6 weeks later. That was the doctor who told me I was too “extreme.” My response to my family history was an overreaction in his book.
It wasn’t. It was spot on. The breast cancer was already there. That moment would have been the early detection we all strive for with self-exams and regular check ups.
I had one surgery that was prophylactic: that total hysterectomy.
Pre-surgery, I had one of those wild, biological clock moments. Those 2 additional children I had once dreamed of having just popped right back into my head. I shared this with my oncologist and he summed it all up very simply. I could have more babies if it was “worth [my] life.”
It’s a wake up call to hear that. And it’s a reminder, for someone like me anyway, to count the blessings I already have.
But preventive surgery once cancer has already invaded your body sure as hell doesn’t feel proactive. It feels like you’re on the run. It strips every single illusion of control that could give comfort in the midst of mayhem.
It guts you.
So you make a choice. One fellow blogger asked, post-surgery, “Am I still a girl?” She was, and is. I am, too. Still a girl. Still a mother. Still bionic (although that’s newer to the scene, haha). How do we identify ourselves once we are past reproduction, but not yet women “of a certain age?”
Anne Rice used a term in her novels: bloodless. It sounds moody and dramatic and, somehow, clean. And very apt.
Somewhere, in a parallel universe perhaps, there’s a me who’s running around having never had cancer. Maybe she’s a full time soccer mom, still driving a minivan and schlepping four kiddos to music lessons and sports as well as school.
Today, women like me are the survivors.
Blessing to you all.