Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's the Little Things...

"Don't Sweat the Small Stuff"

"Stop and Smell the Flowers"

"It's the Simple Things in Life"
...each of these are absolutely correct (albeit trite) adages.

I have had my own epiphany. A variation on these age-old themes, if you will, since my diagnosis with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. If I appear to wax in a rambling poetic manner (a la Jabberwocky), or a perpetrator of TMI, please indulge and forgive - it is not least the poetic part.

For me, it truly has been the little things that I have noticed since dealing with my diagnosis of breast cancer.

I noticed
that I did NOT know that there are two types of breast cancer: Lobular & Ductal.

I noticed that I did NOT know that there are subsets to Lobular & Ductal, i.e. Invasive and Non-Invasive.

I noticed that I felt strangely compelled to look up the definition of invasive ten times.

I noticed that not knowing these things was only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

I noticed the irony that the lobules in the breast are the source of the most nutritious food you can provide your newborn child. I breast-fed three - the last one just 7 years ago.

I noticed the irony that breast feeding is supposed to be a prophylactic against breast cancer.

I noticed that when I was going through all of the diagnostic measures I was always the youngest in the waiting room. (I do acknowledge that being in Arizona means I reside in one of the retirement capitals of the nation.)

I noticed that each and every med-pro that I interrogated started each and every conversation with the unquestioning assumption that because I was young (so relative) that I was going to jump into the toxic-soup. As they stood outside the pot--in their protective gear, holding the ladle.

I noticed that even as an organic, rarely meat-eating, fruit, nut, veggie-consuming type I had no idea of the nutritional deficiencies that can contribute to breast cancer. E.g. a lack of Vitamin D.

I noticed the irony that I live in a climate that has triple-digit sunshine weather 9 months out of the year. Hell, we can export Vitamin D.

I noticed that the my medical issues over the years have been "stressed-related": migraines, miscarriages, pre-term labor, cancer ...THINK (?)

I noticed that I was immediately aware of and repulsed by the ridiculous amount of "pink-ribbon" merchandising that is thrust upon us by retailers - especially during my birthday month.

I then noticed that I had been a good little consumer of some of these pink trinkets (under the misconception that I was contributing to the CAUSE...I mean...CURE somehow??).

I noticed that the CAUSE is making millions for pharmaceutical companies, so there really is no true motivation for a CURE.

I noticed that for some reason I cannot don my pink-ribbon running cap...and forget the Race for the Cure this October...I am so not going to be there. First, and permanent, absence in 15 years.

That's when I noticed that I really am not a good card-carrying member of this exclusive, yet expansive, club of "breast cancer survivors."

I noticed that I am having a hard time coming to terms with the concept of "survivor."

I noticed that I might have subversive tendencies. (If W were in office I might be more concerned that my blog would be monitored for typing (and pinging) the word S-U-B-V-E-R-S-I-V-E.)

I noticed
that people are surprised by my appearance. Not because that I appear sickly, its because I don't.

I noticed that my 8-year old has a hard time taking his eyes off the "d-bombs." Even though I have tried to conceal them in a jewelry gift-bag that I lace through a pirate belt I sport at my hips.

I noticed that I am obscenely fascinated by the red-stringy stuff that gets sucked out by, and stuck in, the "d-bombs" (OOOOO, I DID HEAR THE COLLECTIVE 'EWWWWW' CHIME FROM MY LAPTOP.)

I noticed that in the sometimes awkward conversations regarding my recent mastectomy and diagnosis people are really "punny" (pronounced: pun-nee).

I noticed how much better I felt in just having the surgical oncologist remove the operative tape that covered the stitches from my sentinel node biopsy. The underarm is really an "ouch" area.

I noticed what a thrill it was to find out that without the surgical tape my shower-mobility increased two-fold -- no more Bohemian pits. (THERE'S THAT 'EWWWW' AGAIN.)

I noticed that I am thrilled with the bizarre and sometimes painful feel of nerve-endings firing in my surgical area.

I noticed that most everyone you meet or speak with has had their life touched by cancer.

I noticed that for me (so far) a breast cancer diagnosis has not been my emotional "rock bottom." It dawned on me that dealing with my child's eating-disorder diagnosis years ago was way more emotionally, psychologically and physically draining.

I also noticed that at times I cannot bear to hear yet another cancer story.

I also noticed that I listen nonetheless, because I know that they are retold for all the right reasons: to demonstrate courage; because humans believe in the power of healing by sharing; and that connecting through communication is essential for us as a species -- even those of us in the subversive subset.

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