After Breast Cancer, I Don’t Feel Like Myself Any More

Courtesy of Megan Carusona

I used to be identified with breast most cancers just a little over a 12 months in the past. I used to be 37 and mother to an 8, 5, and 1-year-old. I by no means felt a lump or had a understanding suspicion that one thing was not proper. In truth, I by no means felt higher.

When I completed breastfeeding my final child, I made a decision to get an extended overdue bodily. My physician recommended I meet with a breast specialist to observe me as a consequence of a powerful household historical past of breast most cancers. I did genetic testing and was thrilled once I realized that I used to be unfavorable for every little thing you could possibly take a look at for. The specialist recommended we do an MRI and mammogram yearly. I went in for the primary MRI, and that’s when my world fell aside.

My surgeon known as me two days earlier than Halloween. A biopsy confirmed that I did certainly have most cancers, but it surely was non-invasive — or so we thought. The space was too massive to do a lumpectomy so I needed to do a mastectomy and it was strongly recommended that I do each side. I assumed if I may simply get by means of this surgical procedure I might by no means take into consideration this once more. I used to be dreading it as a result of it meant that I couldn’t decide up or maintain my child for six weeks. Even considering of that half immediately makes me cry.

Courtesy of Megan Carusona

I had the surgical procedure on December tenth, 2019. Two days later, my husband and I celebrated our 10-year marriage ceremony anniversary within the hospital. Though we had three kids and a life collectively, it was then that I noticed the significance of getting a associate. He was there for me to assist me bathe, change drains and dressings, and maintain my hand. He beloved me when it was very exhausting to like myself.

The superb information was that my lymph nodes have been clear. I needed to wait a bit longer for the ultimate pathology. My surgeon lastly known as me whereas I used to be getting a pedicure. She stated the most cancers was really in each breasts and I used to be technically Stage 1 as a result of it had escaped the milk ducts. I now was a candidate for chemotherapy. I hung up and went again to sitting on the nail salon, combating again the urge to burst into tears. That telephone name is what I consider each time I’m going into that nail salon. I typically surprise if that affiliation will ever go away.

After assembly with a few oncologists who all agreed that 4 rounds of chemo can be in my greatest curiosity, I started to freak out about my hair. I turned obsessive about it. The concept of wanting sick was greater than I may deal with. It sounds foolish to say that you just care a lot about your hair, however I did. I nonetheless do. I made a decision to try to save my hair by means of “cold capping,” an insanely costly course of that my insurance coverage didn’t cowl. You put on a freezing helmet in your head on chemo days. The entire course of took round seven hours. My hair thinned an excellent deal, however I didn’t actually lose a ton till chemo was over. By then, we have been deep into the pandemic and no person ever noticed me. I used to be in a position to decide my youngsters up at college and go to my second grader’s basketball video games and appear to be me. It mattered a lot.

Courtesy of Megan Carusona

While chemo itself was no picnic, the actual wrestle for me was psychological. I started counting down the times till my final remedy. I hung a dry erase board on my rest room mirror and wrote a Robert Frost quote, “The only way out is through.” The despair was overwhelming. I started taking antidepressants which helped numb me. The days after chemo, I might lie in mattress and never be capable of think about a future the place issues have been regular. I used to be so caught. My youngsters would go to me in my mattress and snuggle with me. It was them that acquired me by means of absolutely the darkest days of my life.

Chemo ended on the finish of March. My youngsters have been house from faculty as a consequence of COVID. I used to be struggling. Whose life was this? What occurred to me, and the place do I’m going from right here? These are questions that also hang-out me at night time, but it surely’s not each second of every single day any extra. It’s slowly getting simpler.

I made a decision to chop my hair into a brief pixie again in July. The hair that was left after chemo was in such horrible form that I simply needed a recent begin. My hair is rising and I can’t wait till the day I can put it up in a ponytail. Mark my phrases: I’ll by no means have quick hair once more.

Courtesy of Megan Carusona

Some days, it’s actually exhausting to see the individual wanting again at me within the mirror. My breasts are numb and I don’t have nipples. I miss my outdated droopy ones that fed three infants in any respect hours of the night time. The medicine I’ve to take for the following 5-10 years places me into menopause for now. I’m 38, but it surely’s exhausting to really feel prefer it typically. The medical doctors say I’ll most certainly undergo menopause twice.

I additionally wrestle with guilt. I understand how fortunate I’m. So many ladies have it a lot worse. I do know I ought to be grateful. I’ve three wholesome kids and an exquisite, loving husband. Why is it so exhausting to really feel grateful some days?

I nonetheless randomly cry within the bathe or once I’m alone within the automotive. Most lately, I broke all the way down to a technician at my gynecologist’s workplace. She had requested me if there have been any adjustments within the final 12 months. I couldn’t discover phrases to simply reply the query. How may I clarify that I’m not actually me anymore? I’ve this unusual physique, these offended emotions, a narrative that I don’t need.

It’s exhausting to fulfill new folks. My hair is awkward. My eyebrows are skinny. My eyelashes are sparse. I need to scream, “This simply isn’t me!” I would like them to see me how I keep in mind me.

Courtesy of Megan Carusona

The previous 12 months, whereas brutal at instances, has additionally proven me how a lot love and kindness I’m surrounded by. Friends, neighbors and household went above and past to verify on me, ship meals, and chauffeur my youngsters round. My kids’s lecturers despatched me dinners each night time after my surgical procedure.

The greatest a part of all of that is that folks didn’t ship me pink ribbons and different breast most cancers paraphernalia. We didn’t have a “farewell to the tatas” get together. Everybody has to do what’s greatest for them, however I used to be so unhappy about every little thing. Nothing was humorous to me, and the individuals who beloved me acquired that. My mates took me buying and ingesting and it was excellent. I feel the large takeaway from this 12 months is that the kindness of others is what actually will get you thru the really exhausting and crappy instances. I hope I will pay it ahead sooner or later.

When I used to be first identified, and till lately, I used to remain up all night time researching worst case eventualities. I’m not exaggerating once I say that I’ve pored over the pages of each horribly miserable Facebook group. I do know I’m making progress as a result of I can proudly report that I don’t do this anymore. I do know that I’m going to be OK. I’m placing the items again collectively as greatest I can.

Sometimes it helps to remind myself that it is a quick chapter in what I hope might be a really lengthy and wholesome e book. Like everybody else, I’m chalking up this shit present of a 12 months to 2020. No, thanks.

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