post breast cancer: keeping the faith and being yourself

One of the things about breast cancer, is it changes who you are irrevocably in a sense, but on the same hand it shouldn’t change who you are.  That sounds like a circle, but women who have had breast cancer know what I mean.   Maybe I should phrase it differently:  who you were pre-cancer, who you are post-cancer.

I have tried to keep me I have always been in the mix, but there were some bits of me I felt falling to the wayside basically because I was just so damn tired.  I still get tired more easily to be honest, but I find bit by bit the fight in me returns.

Before breast cancer, I used to write about all sorts of things. But upon my diagnosis, I became well, a little fixated on one topic: breast cancer.   (I used to write a lot of guest editorials  – almost all of them can be found HERE on Scribd .)

Of course with my columns, my very opinion for some reason had a lightening rod effect on some people.  There is a collective of women where I live that some of my friends and I refer to simply as  “Mean Girls.”  Only they haven’t been girls for a very long time.  Many of them are just frumpy disgruntled hausfraus, truthfully.  And they aren’t so unusual, every community has them.   From the PTA to the grocery store to church, they are there.

Anyway, some on this crew  would go out of their way to confront my friends as to why they were friends with me (yes seriously, an adult woman who has since moved away did this)…they would also write  vile comments underneath my op-ed pieces not about what I wrote half the time, but just pot shots at me personally.   It was really kind of pathetic.  

But the beauty of life as an adult, is you can tune these people out.  Which is what I used to do, because who the hell were they anyway? The answer was nobodies who just couldn’t handle anyone who did not think or act like them.   As a matter of fact, one of their ilk sent me a message through a mutual friend just the other day.  Madam was apparently miffed that she could not see my comments on a Facebook group page:

We are both members of [name removed] group on facebook. I realized recently that I can’t see any of your comments or postings. Perhaps because your facebook account is somehow blocking me from seeing. As it is a community group and you are someone who clearly believes in the free exchange of ideas I wonder if you would be good enough to check your facebook settings and allow me to see your posts and comments in this group?


The answer to that is “no.”  The gift of being able to think for myself is that I can choose not to interact/engage with people if I so choose.   I don’t need to discuss ideas with her, nor do I need to have a “free exchange.”  Maybe she feels the compunction to comment on things I write, but wow, lady, go bake some Christmas cookies or something.  And truthfully, I found it kind of ignorant to put a mutual friend in the middle just so she could hopefully have me to argue with or dissect.  Yes, adult women can be more high school than their teenagers.

Anyway as far as writing, I hadn’t found a topic that I could sink my teeth into other than breast cancer for a long time until quite recently.    What was it that made me sit up?  An eminent domain case brewing in a neighboring county.

Next thing you know, an editorial was writing itself:

Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2011

To those of us who live on the increasingly congested Main Line, Chester County when we visit is a little slice of heaven. Actual open space, which is something we really don’t have much of in our part of the world. And horses. I love horses.

Ludwig’s Corner is one of those places we admire, predominantly because if any of us rode horses growing up, or grew up knowing people who rode, chances are we spent a little time at Ludwig’s Corner at a show. Ludwig’s Corner was always just a fun place to go to. And the grounds are also home to dog shows, and other nonprofit events. For decades, Ludwig’s Corner has delighted people from all over no matter what the event. And all those events have fed the local economy quite well over the years.

And now in the season of miracles, at Christmastime, apparently Ludwig’s Corner needs an angel or two to save it from ill laid plans of misguided West Vincent Township supervisors. These supervisors put forth a motion on Nov. 28, which even reached our ears a fair distance away. They announced a taking of the horse show grounds via eminent domain. And for what is this taking? A proposed Disneyland of mixed use that by all accounts I have seen no one in Chester County needs nor wants, that will only destroy the bucolic scenery and create a traffic clogging overly urban nightmare at a country crossroads.
[continue reading by clicking HERE]

Writing this editorial made me feel more like me.   And if any of you out there hate eminent domain as much as I do, keep an eye on the news for stories coming out of West Vincent Township, Chester County, PA on Ludwig’s Corner.

As for the breast cancer of it all, the hot flashes march on, but I have been getting a little more sleep.  I will tell you that yesterday the surgery site (where my lumpectomy was) just throbbed off and on all day.  And another weird thing? My nipples hurt.  (and now the huge thunderbolt will come crashing out of the sky because I used nipples, mean girls,  and eminent domain in the same post!)

I did however, finally manage to get my Christmas cards out the door.  It was a lighter list of addressees this year.  There are some people who either did not know what to say or couldn’t bet bothered when they found out I had breast cancer, and well, some of those folks got dumped off the Christmas card list.  I don’t mean to sound mean about it, but these were people I made time for in my life and was there for them when they had times of crisis.  Truthfully I am following the lead of two of my Karens – no muss no fuss, you just need to cull the herd sometimes.  (my Karens as a collective are some pretty cool women by the way.)

A young friend of mine whose mother is my age and has breast cancer has been on my mind.  We spoke last week and his mom is going through the whole lumpectomy and treatment thing.   He was so cute.  He says to me “what can I do for my mom?”  Seriously, I was hard pressed not to get all choked up.  How wonderful a son is he? 

Life and time march on people.  It has now been six months and twelve days since my surgery (June 1st) and today is exactly three months since I finished my radiation treatments (September 13th).

I hate to say “yay, me”, but today I am going to say “yay, me”.  I think I deserve it.  2011 has 18 days left.  It’s been equal parts the most scary, sad, and wonderful year.   I think I will end the post with a quote from Dr. Suess:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

~Dr. Suess

About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.
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