It’s hard to recall some of the difficult times during my cancer battle. I’ve tried to move on as much as I can and not look back. But certain moments still stick out. Certain times were much harder than others to get past.
One thing that is still hard to think about is the diagnosis. The moment my life changed. My diagnosis was more of a process than a one day thing. I kind of knew right away it wasn’t good but had to await official confirmation from a biopsy.
Having studied Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief in health classes, I know I went through at least 3 of the 5 stages. There was denial initially. There’s no way this can be happening to me. I’m healthy, I work out a lot. There has to be an explanation for the lump. Maybe my milk is coming in early. But no. It was happening.
There was some bargaining. Please God don’t let me die. I’ll be nicer to people and a better person but please let me get through this.
There wasn’t much anger or depression. I quickly moved to the final stage of acceptance. Once I realized this nightmare I was in wasn’t going away I knew I had to focus on getting through all of this and doing whatever it took to get through it. I knew I had to focus on taking things step by step and try to stay positive as being negative wasn’t going to help me. The cancer was negative enough, I didn’t need anymore negativity.
Reaching that acceptance stage early on was important. It kept me focused on what needed to be done instead of getting caught up in the emotions of processing such a terrifying diagnosis.
It’s never easy to handle difficult news but we can’t avoid it or pretend it’s not happening. Initially I wanted to keep working and pretend I could focus and quickly realized there was no way I could work and deal with the news I was trying to process.
I tried to work. I had to gather up all my contacts and schedules and get them to my boss as quickly as I could. I tried to finish up contracts I was working on for upcoming rentals. I tried to keep the shifts I covered when we had no staff but couldn’t. I should have done what my replacement does and just close but that’s the easy way out and I don’t take the easy way out.
But now I couldn’t do it all. I couldn’t do anything. I had to focus on myself and my baby and working would be too much especially since I started chemo two weeks after telling my obgyn about my lump.
I tried to get as much as I could done for a job I would lose simply because I was out battling cancer. It bothers me still that I cared so much about a position and what did I get in return the loss of it to a less qualified person who requested a transfer from her area because she was unhappy.
I realize this anger and resentment is as much about my replacement as it is about my cancer. I’m mad at all it took away. I’m mad at all I’ve had to go through. I’m mad at all I lost to this terrible disease. It’s not fair. Cancer isn’t fair. What happened to me and my job isn’t fair. And life isn’t fair.
It’s hard to move on from such a life changing diagnosis. It’s still something I’m struggling with and processing. We don’t just start our new job and act like things are fine and normal even if they mostly are.
I am beyond grateful and lucky and blessed that I got the results I got following my mastectomy. But it’s the mental wounds that are still healing. The pride, the work I put in, the confidence I had. All that has been taken from me and I’m starting new.
I know things aren’t that bad and time heals all wounds but cancer leaves a big wound. It’s a process that takes a long time to get over. I’m getting there, but I’m not over it yet.
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