Warrior. Survivor. Goddess. Kick-ass bitch. Since my experience with breast cancer, I have been labeled many things, all with good intention. The thing is, I don’t want labels. Cancer does not define who I am. I don’t walk around every day thinking about that time in my life. In fact, most of the time it is completely gone from my mind. My body is severely disfigured, so it’s not as if I can actually forget, but I focus on today and so cancer just takes a back seat.
I like to think this is because I dealt with the emotional trauma and moved on in a healthy way. Except. Except for those moments when it creeps up on me really hard And I catch my breath And my stomach knots up And I have to start blinking really rapidly And I can’t hear whatever it is someone is saying to me because of the roaring sound in my ears.
Those moments have a common trigger. Commercials. Facebook posts. Billboards. It seems as though I am plagued by commercials for cancer treatment centers. You know the ones: where some devastated but hopeful couple is holding hands or have their arms around each other as they walk toward the doctor office. Or the articles that well-intentioned people post on Facebook about how to prevent cancer. Um yeah I was a poster child for all those urban myths about that but got it anyway. Or especially the articles about how to “positive attitude” away your cancer without medical intervention because really you just don’t want to get better badly enough if you can’t wish it away. And the damn pink billboards. No words for those.
The commercial or article appears and I am immediately transported back to those weeks I would rather forget. Those weeks when I thought I might not watch my kids graduate from high school or college or get married or have kids of their own. Those moments when I started mentally cleaning my things out of the house so Ted wouldn’t have to deal with that after I was gone. Those moments when I was hopeful I would survive but trying to steal myself for all the chronic pain and how it might affect my marriage and hoping I wouldn’t hurt so much that I couldn’t let my husband touch me or my children snuggle me.
That. That roaring in my ears. The blinking. I need for those damn commercials to go away and let me live with cancer as a silent memory in the back of today’s beauty.