I have a surgery date!!!!
December 11, 2018.
It feels so, so good to have a surgery date. FINALLY, something that is known and concrete!
The uncertainty was excruciating. I never knew how much making commitments meant to me until suddenly I felt I could not make any commitments or plans, because at any time I could need to begin treatment or surgery or drop everything to meet with a cancer specialist. Suddenly my life was not my own.
The first hard part was waiting for test results. Waiting is agony – pure anxiety and fear.
Getting bad test results is not any easier.
The next hard part was deciding about breast reconstruction. I turned the problem over in my mind every single second, from the wee morning hours until late at night, every day, for weeks. I read everything I could, posted on facebook groups and web forums, and consulted whoever I could. I lost my appetite and could not sleep.
I have decided not to get a breast implant. Once I decided that, I didn’t need any more time and wanted to move forward with surgery as soon as possible.
Dartricia sent me a copy of The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde. Lorde wrote of her mastectomy decision, “I was helped by the fact that one strong voice kept insisting that I had in truth made the decision already, all I had to do was remember the pieces and put them together. That used to annoy me sometimes, the feeling that I had less to decide than to remember.”
Audre Lorde’s words vibrating through time were exactly what was necessary for me to finally acknowledge my own inner certainty – the internal voice that was clear from the beginning: I do not want a breast implant. A breast implant can not recreate my own breast, that small and perfect organ I grew myself which brings me so much joy and sweetness.
I do not begrudge anyone their choice regarding this, and as always, I support complete bodily autonomy for every single one of us, forever.
The next hard part will be after surgery – grieving, healing, getting used to my new body & incorporating all of this into my identity. Learning how to dress myself again. A scar, without feeling, in a part of my body that before was so sensitive and brought me so much pleasure. I am feeling brave and excited to take baby steps towards accepting and coming to love my new body, without silicone or more surgeries. For now though, I can only imagine what this process will feel like after my breast is removed.
I feel that all the cosmos, and all of my past actions, are putting all the ancestors and mentors I need in my path to support me and share their wisdom and guidance. Synchronicities keep appearing. Gale, my oncology social worker, who I love and admire, used to work with the Coalition for the Medical Rights of Women in the 1980s. Access Women’s Health Justice, the reproductive justice organization and abortion fund that is so dear to my heart, used to be a project of the Coalition for the Medical Rights of Women. So Gale and I share a lineage.
I am so happy that this experience, terrible and difficult as it is, is also a way for me to practice something I have been struggling towards already – acknowledging the sure-ness of my inner voice and making choices that align with that true-ness, that right-ness, that inner knowing. Following my inner compass even when I am afraid of what other people will think, or that the path it charts will be more difficult. I feel that my whole life has been a process of circling in on this – getting close to it, then getting scared and backing off, making the wrong choices based on fear and then suffering because of it, making the right choice halfway and then chickening out, trying again, getting closer each time. The world has taught me so much about swallowing myself and ignoring my inner compass. Now the world is helping me unlearn. Every time I take a baby step towards my true north, I feel joy, peace, and excitement.
So even an amputation can be a process of becoming more myself.