These things are not tied with a pink ribbon (Breast Cancer Awareness Month)

January 14th, 2010 § 2 comments

I wish I had the energy of my youth.
I wish I had the body.
I wish I had the fearlessness, the spunk, the drive.

I wish I could have a conversation with that young girl,
bright-eyed and full of wonder.
I wish I could tell her what lay ahead.

I wish I could tell her to gather strength, and wisdom, and patience like a squirrel gathering acorns for the winter.
“Save those things up,” I’d say, “you are going to need them… every last bit.”
I wish I could share the perspective I’ve gained along with all of the love.

But I can’t go back to that time,
I can’t go back to that place.
I can’t rewrite what’s happened,
I can’t do it all again.

I guess I must have done something right along the way for when it came time to fight I did,
and I did it well.
But that struggle took its toll on me and I am quite sure I will never, ever be the same.

You tell yourself “they’re only breasts.”
You say, “I don’t need ovaries, I’m done having children.”
But that obscures the truth.
The truth is that it does matter,
they do matter.
They say my uterus is atrophied.
It almost sounds funny when you say it.

“Who cares? What does that matter?”
It does. It does. It does.
To get rid of all hormones gives me a better chance at avoiding a recurrence, but there is a price to be paid.
No estrogen matters more than I ever thought it could.

It feels worse than taking injections to suppress my ovaries, worse than taking Tamoxifen. Those were easy. I had no clue what was ahead.

I wear the skirt, I put the makeup on, I walk the walk.
But I do not feel like a woman anymore.
I’m proud of what this body has done for me:
3 beautiful children,
surviving cancer,
healing the broken bones, the infections, the autoimmune diseases.

There is no week without migraines,
no cold winter day without icy implants.

Beneath the pretty lies ugly,
the ugly truth of cancer
and what it has taken from me.

While some may be able to go on,
move on,
I cannot.
My body will not let me.

These things are not tied with a pink ribbon.

These things last longer than a month.
This is part of awareness.

This is part of what breast cancer can do.
This is what it has done to me.1

  1. October 20, 2010 []

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§ 2 Responses to These things are not tied with a pink ribbon (Breast Cancer Awareness Month)"

  • I remember reading your post when you were getting diagnosed, and everything everywhere was pink, which repulsed you. I thought of that when I read this post by s.e. smith — — about how pink branding actually reduces breast cancer awareness, prevention, etc. It immediately reminded me of your post, which I cannot find in the archives, unfortunately, because I wanted to send it to s.e. smith.

  • Anne says:

    I hope you are not as depressed as when you originally wrote this and I certainly hope you are feeling better and MOST of all…cancer free! As a woman still on the front side of this battle…please keep in mind the things that haunt me (and probably would be haunting the alternate “you”) if you had not made this difficult decision. I am the mother of 1 child. He is two. Yes he has a father but only one mother. No siblings. No cousins on my side as I am an only child myself. I will do ANYTHING and go through ANY HELL to be here to …pack his lunches someday for school. Drive him to practice. Drive him to succeed. Sit up with him all night when he is sick. Tell him he is wonderful on a day when he is 13, clumsy, has pimples and a girl he likes ignores him. I too was totally against any plastic surgery and never smoked anything stronger than an occasional cigarette when 16. Now I will be stuck with two fake boobs and taking drugs and getting scans the rest of my life. I’ve never had surgery except for tonsils when I was 4. Now if they tell me they’d take out my ovaries if it gives me more of a chance of LIVING (not living super, but LIVING) I will do it! If only we should all be so lucky as to have to put up with this for years and years and years….

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