We Are The ‘Other’ Breast Cancer Women
I felt this almost immediate sense of ‘otherness’ upon my stage four diagnosis. You see, I skipped ‘Go! Collect $200’ and went straight to stage four out of the gate.
It’s impossible not to feel alone when given this news and it’s something I continue to struggle with. Since the beginning, (January 2018: new year, new obliteration of life as I knew it) I have constantly sought out other ‘METAthrivers’ because I feel like we are the ‘other’ ones.
What I mean here, when I took to social media this winter, was that everywhere I looked I saw beautiful women with breast cancer who were excelling ‘on the other side’ of cancer. They were in remission, or even better ‘cured!’ and it made me…dare I say: ‘jealous’, ‘hurt’, ‘f*cking angry’ that I don’t get to travel there. Instead, I get the maintenance plan, the slow it down plan, the constant ‘wondering’ where this intruder can go next plan.
We are the ones who get the sympathetic eyes, the ones who get the automatic ‘you’re dying’ looks. I’ve had to educate countless people, including my own family that I am NOT going anywhere anytime soon.
I couldn’t help but wonder, (yes, throw in a Carrie Bradshaw bubble here) aren’t there lots of diseases that keep a life long maintenance program? And yes, there are.
I feel like my mindset actually changed from let’s cancel the RRSP’s to ‘hell yeah! I’ve got this’ upon meeting my palliative doc at Princess Margaret. I was VERY reluctant to meet with him because palliative to me meant ‘end of life’. AND he was quick to educate me otherwise. He was the one to explain ‘progression’ and ‘remarkable’ (come on… anyone with cancer knows the connotation of the word remarkable).
He explained SO clearly that I could choose to spiral downward OR let him tell me about advanced breast cancer and the new options available and becoming more available constantly. He suggested I treat my new life as a chronic disease versus a fatal one. That of course, was not to diminish the severity of the situation, BUT to take a mindset of positive management.
I haven’t looked back. I only live for now. I only look to a future of optimistic opportunities and advancements for MBC. Mindset. It’s everything and the key to MY survival.
So don’t look at me and feel sad. Don’t look at me like I’m some ‘other’ person. I’m healing every day. I’m happier than I have ever been. I am EYES WIDE OPEN. I’m built of tough stock and I will continue to thrive. – Nadine Parsons