Saturday, 7 March 2015

I am not my cancer!

I am kicking off the Young Women's Breast Cancer Blog UK with a selection of posts from existing blogs of young women with breast cancer, to provide examples of the range of things you can write about.

This post is from my own blog, Fights Like A Girl! 

I can't remember who, but a couple of weeks ago someone tweeted a link to this article:

I am not my nipples (Please, please read it! I mean, read it now, before you continue reading this.)

The author of the article is Kayla Redig (@iamnotmycancer), who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 24. I've been reading other articles Kayla has written, as well as her blog, Love Conquers All. There's a lot that Kayla has written that  I felt could have come straight from me. To say the I am not my nipples article really struck a chord with me would be an understatement. The part of the article that had me practically jumping off the sofa screaming "Yes!" was this bit:

"After my bilateral mastectomy....  every reaction I heard when people found out that I didn't have nipples was how weird it was. Don't I feel like less of a woman? Isn't it embarrassing to be topless around others? And even though it doesn't bother me, shouldn't I "fix that" for my future spouse? Who knew that nipples were such a huge part of being human -- I wasn't aware that my femininity relied on two little pink bumps.....  I might not have nipples but I do have a huge smile and a funky 'fro. I might not have nipples but I hold a record for the Blazin' Wings BWW challenge. I might not have nipples but I will try anything once. Plus, I act before thinking a lot of the time and love people in big ways. What about defining me by some of those things? Shouldn't we celebrate and embrace those qualities? If you're going to label me, at least let me provide you with some labels to choose from."

I knew  right away I wanted to write my own I Am Not My Cancer blog post. This is particularly important to me now, while I am having chemo. The truth is that chemo has taken over. It has taken over my body. It's taken over what I can and can't do with my days and when. It's taken over conversations. It's taken over all of the drawers in the bathroom cupboard. Even my beloved Week 3 is really all about the chemo - all about fitting as much fun stuff in as possible before my next blast. So I've been feeling very much like I am my chemo.

I've become very focused on the numbers. I'm 12 weeks in. 4 chemos done, 2 to go. 24 days until the last blast, assuming there are no delays as a result of low blood levels. 10 more injections. 6 more days on the 'roids. 2 more blood tests. 2 more cannulas. 4 more possible faints. I'm constantly counting down, because I cannot wait for the end. Time spent over the last couple of weeks with women who've recently finished their own treatment for breast cancer has given me a real boost. Everyone is in agreement. Chemo is by far the hardest part. By far. So not only am I counting down because I'm desperate for it to be over, I'm counting down because I'm excited for it to be over. To get back to being me.

So here it is....

I am not my chemo. I am not my hair. I am not my eyebrows. I am not my eyelashes. I am not my nipples. I am not my ovaries. I am not my cancer.

I am Sarah. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I love my friends more than anything. I often talk too much, but I will speak up for things I believe in and stand up for others. I spend a lot of time poking fun (including at myself). I love people who can make me laugh. I'm impatient, but I get things done. I'm gullible, but I'm trusting, and can be trusted. I love to read even though I rarely finish a book. I worry about what people think about me and my feelings get hurt too easily. At those times I tend to find putting Beyonce on loud helps. I'm forgetful, but I like to learn, especially from and about other people. I'm a feminist. I love dogs. I love Christmas and as far as I'm concerned, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation is the best film of all time. I like looking up at the stars and thinking about how small I am and how big the universe is. I sing loudly when I cook. I don't like to miss out on any of the fun. I want to make other people happy. I'm an optimist, and I'll do whatever it takes.

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