Tonight, three and a half days after my latest biopsy, my anxiety is out of control, and I wonder how other cancer survivors deal with continual biopsies. With the continuous and regular fear of cancer’s return.
When I had breast cancer in 2006, it was a terrible experience; there are no words for how horrible it was. I saw my doctor every three months for years. Eventually, I graduated to every six months and then to every year; finally, I was released from care. (I had an aggressive triple-negative breast cancer that, while very terrible, at least wouldn’t come back after 10 years.)
But this melanoma thing is just killing me. Every three months since my diagnosis, I go see the dermatologist. Every three months, she cuts off a part of my body to check for cancer. AND THEN I WAIT.
I want to push it out of my head. I try everything possible to push it out. I do fairly well at work because I’m crazy busy and the distraction helps. But after work…coming home to a house with no husband and a typical teenager (i.e., a super great kid who really only wants to talk to Mom for about 15 minutes), and dogs who don’t understand English, much less cancer…that fucking sucks.
All the thoughts come racing in.
My hand hurts.
Oh yeah, that’s because a chunk of it is missing.
That’s right…I might have cancer AGAIN.
But then my positive nature kicks in. “Dawn, you’ll be okay,” it tells me. “You’ve beaten cancer twice already. You’ll beat it again.”
And my realistic side counters, “Yeah, but this time it’s on my hand. And it’s huge. If it’s cancer, they’ll take even a huger section. And seriously, I have small hands…”
My optimistic part says, “No worries. You have two hands, and this one is your left hand. Plus, maybe it’ll make your hand less wrinkled and old-looking!”
Realistic Dawn argues, “There’s no meat on your bony-ass little hand, and it’s going to hurt like fucking hell. And how in the world are you going to fish when Charlie gets home after the doctor takes off the top of your hand???”
And then, when those particular voices are quiet, a third one kicks in, “Hey, remember there’s a reason all your girlie parts are missing. They were thinking about killing you too. Your whole body is against you…”
So yes, that is my brain. Fucking with me. Every three months.
Every three months, I get plunged back into Cancer Land—which unfortunately has no relation to Candy Land—and my mental status tanks.
I don’t want to be here in Cancer Land, but I don’t know how to get out when it happens so frequently. And I know people must get tired of me complaining about it, so I try to keep quiet. To limit myself to only one day of visible freak-out-edness.
But seriously, the doc is cutting off parts of my body, every three months, to see if I have cancer.
That freaks me the fuck out.
And I haven’t found anything, not a damned thing, that takes the fear away.
And it’s scary. And exhausting. And I want it to stop.
(And if you’re wondering about the photo in this blog post, I used it because it makes me happy. And I love and miss my husband.)