" /> The Merits of the Case: April 2008 Archives

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April 20, 2008

Flashbacks

I have written before about how frequently I still think and talk about breast cancer. I am still dealing with several residual physical effects of chemotherapy, including, among others, menopause, weird nail issues, and nerve damage in my left arm and back. (All of which are minor, minor issues compared to chemo and cancer!) There are left-over emotional issues, as well. Every time I hear about a cancer diagnosis I find myself getting emotional about it, for example. And there are times when something unexpected triggers a very distinct, physical memory of chemo, which can be overwhelming sometimes.

I had one of those moments last week. I was getting ready to leave the house to go to school one morning and I decided to wear a bright fuchsia trench coat since it was such a beautiful day. I didn’t want to wear one of my dark scarves with the coat and I remembered that I had a scarf with all kinds of bright colors on it that I had worn on my head last summer. I ran upstairs, dug through the scarves hanging in the back of my closet, and pulled out the brightly colored one. As I began to unfold it to look at it, I was struck by my physical reaction to the colors, the pattern, and the feel of the scarf. Holding it made me feel almost nauseous, and I experienced a strong physical aversion to the scarf. I tried to tell myself that I was being silly, but I couldn’t overcome the feeling; I could hardly look at it. I knew there was no possible way I was going to be able to wear it, so I hung it back up and decided not to wear a scarf at all. It was a strange feeling because I have never had such a strong reaction to an article of clothing. (Other than when I find a pair of shoes that I must have, of course, but that’s a much more positive feeling!)

I have held on to my scarves and hats out of some kind of superstitious fear of a cancer recurrence, but I think that I am going to donate them somewhere because I need to get them out of my house. I am sure that I will never, ever wear them again unless I have to go through chemo again, and I can’t wait around for that to happen!

April 13, 2008

368 Days

That’s about how long it has been since I first discovered a lump in my breast. As I wrote recently, just a few days after I found the lump I had breakfast with my kids, my parents, and my brother and his family following a local 5K/10K race in which my brother and my nephew ran. I had not seen a doctor yet, so I had not told anyone about it on that Sunday morning. I thought about it all morning, though; little did I know how ominous it would turn out to be.

Today—368 days later—I ran in that same 5K. While I didn’t set any records for the fastest time, I ran the whole thing. (Except for the moment when I had to stop to tie my shoe!) Today during breakfast, instead of thinking about my mortality and instead of feeling frightened about the ramifications of finding a lump in my breast, I thought about how lucky I am to be able to run and about how lucky I am to get to spend that kind of time with my family.

My world is a very different place than it was 368 days ago. In some ways, it is a darker and more difficult place. After all, the fear of a recurrence or metastasis is always lurking in the corner (and sometimes in the front) of my mind. In many ways, it is a better place. I am probably healthier right this minute than I have ever been before in my life. And I appreciate each day and each person in my life in more ways than I did a year ago. I can’t go so far as to say that having breast cancer was a good thing, but I’m still here, so it wasn’t the worst thing.

My brother and my kids all ran in the race this year, too. Despite the snow on the rooftops this morning and the balmy 32 degree temps (Hello, Chicago in April!), it was an exhilarating morning for all of us.

LITH Run 2008.JPG

Next stop—the Y-Me Race to Empower on Mother’s Day!

Hair Update

This is for those of you who have been curious about my hair. This was taken on Friday night at dinner with my friends Rachel and Gayle. I am about 5 1/2 months post-chemo.

Yes, it's curly! No, there is no gray! (Thank God for small favors!)

Rachel, Kim and Gayle.JPG