Wednesday, October 23, 2013
So here it is again, Pinktober. I hate it. Truly, truly hate it. I was at the grocery store last week when a squeaky clean, barely-out-of-high school boy asked me if I wanted to "rock the cure" with a donation. Rock the cure? So it's fun now? It's not only pink but it rocks? What the hell is wrong with this? Let me help you. My story isn't new to anyone who knows me but maybe a bit of renewal will help...it will certainly help me. During the first of seven surgeries, the surgeon turned a four hour mastectomy into a nine hour breast removal and lymphnode dig. They weren't easily leaping onto the scalpel so he dug toward my back, searching for kidney bean sized nodes to run pathology on - you know, to see how bad it was for me already giving up a breast. They were hard to find. They were hidden, he said. Perhaps scared to death of being held hostage by cancer. Four weeks of recovery, physical therapy and giant, gaping, chest creases the size of sink holes later, I was starting chemo. Pink? Post surgery - good news...only one node affected. But that one turned me into a septic tank of chemo and radiation for 11 more months. Burned, poisoned, dehydrated, anemic and weak. Are you seeing pink yet? Me neither. Or the third surgery - the one where my expander put in as a breast place holder became so infected, I spent a month on antibiotics fighting staph and MRSA. No expander. No rebuilt breast. How about now? No pink? Or my second mastectomy that was elective but later found to have cancer...surprise, that fire breathing dragon lives. Or the radiation so damaging with third degree burns I lost all options for reconstruction less I want to move muscle from my back to form incongruent hard breasts that may or may not match or hold with fake skin that resembles a can of vomit colored playdough. Hmmm...feel like dancing yet in your pink boa? No? Why not? And yet...I am not myself. Never will be. I tire easily, can't get rid of the extra weight piled on through treatment and steroids, catch every virus, my hair falls out, my skin needs several forms of expensive creams to avoid peeling off my bones, my joints hurt from the bone marrow/white blood cell builders and the breast cancer stay away medicine cocktails. I can't wear V neck shirts, low cut anything and bathing suits from the regular section...old lady high necks for this girl. My fake boobs move around, the no-boob look gets stares and my skin still burns from shower water. I can barely look at it, gd forbid I ever touch it. I have aged ten years and frankly staying grateful and positive is simply exhausting. But I do. So when I am asked to Rock the Cure, buy pink bracelets or water bottles, throw a Save the Tatas bumper magnet on my car, I can't hold the bile down. You want a color that feels like cancer? You can't. It's colorless. It insidiously creeps into your lives and steals the mother from your children, the life out of your eyes and robs the spirit right through your pores. It invades, it burns and it kills. It sits quietly. It moves. It lays low and covers ground faster than you can. It steals the pregnancy from a woman and the wife from a man. You can win but not without tremendous loss. It does not tire...ever. No one escapes unscathed. It's anything but pink. It's the vast wasteland of pain and torture and darkness. There is no cause for joy. There is no pink. Stop fucking dancing. So when I was asked to Rock the Cure, I smiled at this young boy, not aware at all of the depth this colorless serpent is capable of and simply said, "no thank you"...and on my way out, I started to cry.