Bitter or Better?
Are you bitter or better?
This little query has been rattling around in my head since New Years Eve. Why? Because when the ball dropped in Time Square and the numbers 2017 illuminated it was a big blinking reminder that it's been 10 years since cancer first entered my life and 5 years since it snuck back in. Am I bitter? Am I better? Am I a bit of both?
I'll be the first to admit, being a cancer patient isn't for the faint of heart and it's been one hell of a wild ride. Cancer crept into my life like a terrorist sleeper cell, silently securing its pathways through my milk ducts and blood vessels nourishing itself by attempting to suck the life from its host aka ...ME! One day I was innocently shopping for bras marveling at how awesome my boobage looked in this cute little pink lacy number (oh trust me, the irony is not lost, pink was just a random color back in February of 2007) and just days later there was something rubbery popping out that I was hoping was just some freakishly large cyst, well, we all know how that turned out. From that day forward it's been full speed ahead always trying to outrun the demon.
Well, am I bitter or better?
Hmmm, when I think back to that year, 2007, I'm reminded of just how far I've come. I went from sticking my fingers in my ears screaming "lalalalalala - breast cancer I can't hear you - lalalala" to being an outspoken advocate for all my survivor sistahs. Stage 0 to Stage 4, we all belong here, in this little community, lifting each other up even on days when our own burden is breaking our backs. I'm privileged to have become friends with some of the most amazing human beings to have graced this earth and each day I tangibly feel the loss of those that are no longer here among us.
I'm listed as one of National Cancer Survivor's Day recognized speakers and to that end I realized that I've blogged about my boobs, I've flashed my boobs, I've bowled for boobs, I've mocked my boobs, I've discussed my boobs ad nauseam in both public and private forums, I've walked (and even ran) countless miles all in the name of my boobs.
So I'm better right? Not so fast.
When cancer comes calling it does so with a whole host of accouterments; there's the scars of course (some you can see - and the most painful ones you cannot), lost hair, lost organs, lost body parts, lost time, lost relationships (it's cancer stupid, not cooties), postponed plans, endless bills, crushing debt, a roster of doctors (thank god for smart phones), intense stress, scanxiety, compression sleeves (don't leave home without it), medical ID bracelets (even the expensive ones are NOT chic), long term drug therapies, and long lasting side-effects.
Maybe I'm bitter? Depends on the day.
Overall, I know I'm damn lucky and I also know that my luck could run out tomorrow, but living with a sword over your head is still living right? I am brazen and outspoken. I have no time to mince words. If I have something to say...I say it. But I frighten easily too, you know how your dog looks when you're driving to the vet? Yea, that, ten-fold when I'm headed to any doctor (dentists & eye doctors included) because trauma. I have massive survivor's guilt that comes in waves - and some days it's emotionally crippling.
I've coined so many phrases my junior high English teacher, Mrs. DuBrow would be proud, amongst them; allthecancerdemons, arimidiva, boobage, cancer dance, counterfeit tits, hairy sexless troll, nipple-torture test, post-menopausal shrew, tamoxibabe, and my personal favorite (and most frequently used) stupidfuckingcancer. Perhaps my next book should be a thesaurus?
My life by the numbers is 10 years, 2 cancers, 1 pre-cancer, 2 ports, 17 surgeries, 12 rounds of chemo, 28 rounds of herceptin, 6 tattoos, 1 published book (and 3 waiting in the wings), 12 Amazon reviews (11 good - 1 bad from some random Puritan), 55 blog posts, 5 published articles, 7 doctors that I see regularly, 2 young boys that I've been blessed to see become young men, 1 husband, 1 fur baby, and 940+ followers on my Facebook page for Does This Outfit Make Me Look Bald?
So I guess I'm more better than bitter. We all are. We've earned the joys and the tears, your journey is yours and yours alone as is mine. I only hope I've made a difference.