Finding comfort in the breast cancer battle

I’ve been on this cancer journey for 56 days now, and since that time the world has not looked or sounded the same to me. Cancer changes everything. It changes the way I see the world, the way I deal with other people, and the way I react to everyday occurrences. Cancer has also changed my language. Words like warrior, fight, battle, and defeat have become part of my lexicon. They are harsh words for a harsh situation.

But one word that is missing from breast cancer dialog is comfort. Finding comfort in this breast cancer battle has become very important to me. The things that brought me joy and comfort before my diagnosis are the things that I cling to now – reading a book, seeing a good movie, playing with my dogs, honing my photography, planning our vacation(s), and spending time with my husband. I love these things beyond all else and I will not apologize for putting them first ever again. pre-op

I am four days post-op as I write this post, propped up in bed with multiple incisions that are well on their way to healing. As I think back about going into surgery just a few days ago, the things that I remember the most are the small human moments during a really long day at the hospital.

I remember joking around with Donna, the MRI tech, about what to call that place where your boob meets your arm. (I call it my “barm” but I’m told that’s not a technical term.) I remember making Asian jokes with Andrew, the anesthesiology resident, about how I’m a cheap date when it comes to the good drugs. And I remember promising Dr. Meyer that I wouldn’t try to frantically hail a cab after he had inserted wire guides into both my breasts hours before surgery.

These moments were few and far-between. There should be more of them. Cancer isn’t funny, no, but that doesn’t mean that cancer patients aren’t human. Cancer amplifies the need for human connection. Trust me, when multiple strangers have touched your boobs and you are wheeled around the hospital like an invalid, even simple eye contact can go a long way.

Fifty-six days ago when I received my diagnosis, I couldn’t have predicted how much I could change in that time. Cancer has made me nicer, more patient, and more willing to see the gray in what used to look like a black-and-white world. Cancer has made me appreciate the effort – every effort – of people being human to one another. These moments are few and far-between. There should be more of them.

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