I didn’t mind at all being lopsided all this time as long as my right breast, the “treatment area”, was bigger than the left. I thought both were pretty damn gorgeous and it really never bothered me. I didn’t mind the scars. I didn’t even mind the blue nipple or the almost purple color much of the skin has turned. But suddenly, in a matter of four days, the right breast has shrunk so that it’s noticeably smaller and I find this incredibly upsetting.
I think sometimes I hold the stress, appearing normal, until a trigger releases it, so my painful reaction to my shrunken breast is probably due to something more. I seem to skate along pretty well most of the time–and I can even be a bit smug when I feel I’m in control–but I don’t have much left for dealing with anything unexpected. It’s part of depression, I think, to have few emotional reserves. My fabulous support team, probably assuming it’s almost over, have almost all disappeared.
But it’s not over. In some ways, it is just beginning. I have been a hospice volunteer for years, and I’ve observed that the most difficult time for persons suffering a heart-breaking loss is after everything is over and everybody’s written their sympathy card or left their casserole and, usually, necessarily, gone back to their own demanding lives.
But as hard as it’s been to be a cancer patient, being a cancer survivor is a new kind of hard, and although I’m incredibly grateful for a good prognosis, nothing will ever be the same for me. So please don’t go just yet. I don’t think I can do this alone.