Shock of water like
knowledge of fragility
can buoy or break
On Monday, with 95% of the lab work in hand, an oncologist delivered the positive news of the negative: negative for cancer cells in the lymph nodes. Negative for invasive cancer in the breast tissue. Our road trip to Idaho would proceed as (re)scheduled! I’d been putting off booking a hotel room for the night in Cedar City, Utah, the halfway point, but now I did.
On Tuesday, my surgeon received the last 5% of the lab work, and delivered the negative news of the positive: positive margins at the excision site, meaning that abnormal cells–still noninvasive–had been found too close to the edges of the removed tissue, so more would have to be taken. I’m scheduled for a second surgery Tuesday. I cancelled the hotel room. I was further from the half-way point than I’d thought. A heavy disappointment told me that I’d let my positive thinking for a best-scenario outcome turn into expectation.
Note to self: Work on keeping these two separate and under control at all times.
Self to self: BWAAAAA ha ha ha ha. Whatevs.
Control’s not working so well these days. Which has forced me to investigate alternative coping methods.
A few days before the first surgery, I sat in the gray-toned waiting room of an outpatient clinic waiting for the “radioactive seed localization implant”–a painless procedure in which a tiny, ever-so-slightly radioactive chip of metal is implanted at the site of the DCIS-afflicted tissue, (for the surgeon to locate with a Geiger counter). And I decided that one reason–among many–like, say, having a radioactive piece of metal injected into my breast–that this whole experience with DCIS was so unnerving is that it brought me into strange and foreign places and unfamiliar situations.
Having had that thought, I was moved to a second waiting room, this one tiny, with two curtained-off dressing cubes, gray speckled Linoleum floors and walls the color of Silly Putty. My view was onto a hallway on whose wall was embedded an indecipherable piece of machinery. I decided to consider this place a foreign country, with its own strange architecture, customs, language, and way of dress. Like Paris, but without the good butter, crusty bread, Mansard roofs, and generally short men.
This helped a great deal. In fact, when I arrived home, there was a Skpe message waiting for me from my friend Solveig: “think of this as a big adventure–your one and only lumpectomy!”
“Like Disneyland, I wrote back. “Except instead of the Teacup Ride, it’s the D-Cup Ride!”
This frame of mind–or framing of events–is working quite nicely, but at some point, my subconscious begins to wonder why I am in Disneyland, and why I feel so unprepared to be here.
And so I’ve started to read about the most effective ways to assimilate such situations. I am not much one for rah-rah-rah self-help books, but I’m always open to suggestions. A dear friend suggested Pema Chodron‘s writings, and I’ve begun When Things Fall Apart; the same friend sent this URL to Brene Brown’s TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.” Because behind my dreams–about Angry Birds costumes; about my sons, ill and injured; about leaving glass shards on the floor between me and my sleeping children; of tracking ink on my sister’s carpet–are feelings–absolutely and completely irrational feelings, mind you–not only of vulnerability and fear but of guilt, and shame, responsibility, and inadequacy.
Frankly, it’s a pain in the ass.
But I’m in a place of growth and learning. And so far, even including my deductible, it’s cheaper than grad school.
Now, on the morning of my second lumpectomy, I will keep this image of Gbot in mind:
This belly flop is
beautiful! Style! Form! And the