Saturday, July 31, 2010

I'm Not Her

Am I cured? I asked my oncologist when I would be scanned to make sure there is no cancer left in my body. He said there is no reason to subject me to unnecessary radiation by x-raying me or anything. He says the surgery got all the cancer and the chemotherapy was precautionary. I don’t really care; you can say that all day long I still want actual proof. I mean, take a fucking Polaroid of me and tell me there’s no more cancer—fucking doctors only do as much as they are willing and don’t really seem to have a desire to bend over backwards for their patients. It’s not like it’s my life at risk or anything… oh, wait, it IS my life!

My friends are asking me when I’ll know that I’m cancer-free, but I have no answer for them. I don’t want to say I am because I really don’t know. There are things inside my body that I cannot control and that I cannot oversee and therefore I have no idea if I’m okay or not. What if my cells are all pissed off that I killed them and they are plotting against me? My uterus and I have been battling it out for years about the damn baby situation, so maybe she’s out to get back at me for potentially ruining that one for good. I keep saying I did chemo because my mom didn’t and she died, but I could still die and that fear is very real. I want something to show that I’m okay; to show that I fought against cancer. I want that Polaroid or a certificate of completion; something to show I suffered from chemo and fought like a warrior, and that I survived it. A fucking trophy would be nice. Anything! I mean little kids get red ribbons after they participate in races and here I am: far more than just a participant and I get what? I feel like I should be wearing a t-shirt that reads: I survived a mastectomy and chemo and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. But I didn’t even get a t-shirt! Is it too much to ask for a parade? At the very least my oncologist could have given me that participant ribbon on my last day of chemo but all he did was say I’ll be fine and the light can be seen at the end of the proverbial tunnel, etc etc, etc.

Basically what I heard him saying is that “we just had you suffer on chemo for 4 months because we have to and we don’t really care that you feel like shit or need reassurance.” And, in addition “if we are wrong and missed something or the chemo didn’t work we’ll find out next year when we do tests and mammograms and discover you are terminal and there’s nothing else we can do, or we’ll subject you to more chemo and tprture you more instead of trying to stop you from getting cancer again by paying attention to what your body is doing before the cancer develops.” Western Medicine is beyond belief to me! They are simply treating a disease in my body without concerning themselves with HOW it got there in the first place. I’m 34 and I got breast cancer. I was the healthiest person I knew, I ate well, I exercised, I drank water, hardly ever drank alcohol, stopped doing drugs years ago and I hadn’t smoked in years. My only vice was Pepsi and I think it’s safe to assume Pepsi alone did not cause my cancer. How can all these things be ignored? Why can’t I be treated like a person who has certain medical issues all her life and have those factored into why I might have developed cancer at such a young age? The doctors are ignoring half of my medical history. No, more than that! Could my stomach problems have contributed to my cancer? Could my stress, my anxiety, my hormonal issues have anything to do with it? Could my migraines or bi-polar disorder be connected? Maybe someone’s doing a study of this but why isn’t my oncologist at all concerned with it? No, he’s not. Probably because he gets paid no matter what he does and it’s easier for him to follow the standard protocol and tell me I’m going to “live happily ever after” than put any extra effort into treating me like I’m an individual with differing characteristics from other patients.

Oncologists can prescribe this shit-fuck medicine left and right but they never have to take it. They give it to us and write down our symptoms and if we bitch enough about something they’ll give us another medicine to combat the side-effects of the first one. They don’t need to know anything about the interconnectedness of our bodies and how maybe my intestinal issues that reacted to my monthly hormonal changes may have been a direct factor in my forming a cancerous lump in my breast at only 33 years old. They don’t need to know my diet or suggest I eat this or that and don’t eat this or that because all patients are the same. Yet we keep discussing how most of us who are on chemo react differently to the meds and no one can say for sure that we’ll respond one way or another—so why can’t we all be treated as individuals instead of being clumped into categories and treated the same way no matter what our history, diet or tolerance for pain is? Maybe if the oncologist had ever taken AC they’d be more understanding of how it feels.

I’m not her; I’m me; an individual with different circumstances and a different body. That should matter but it doesn’t. How can I not be angry about that? There’s no guarantee I won’t get cancer again. In fact it’s rather likely that since I got it so young I will get it again at some point in my life. It could be next year or in ten years, or in twenty, but there’s no way of knowing, and since the doctors aren’t pushing to uncover the WHYs and HOWs of what’s causing breast cancer in young women as individuals how can we ever expect to get any better treatment or find cures at all? I don’t honestly believe there are any scientists looking for the cure for cancer because I think it was already discovered and whatever it might be is so simple that it won’t make anyone any money so it’s being hidden in some secret vault somewhere and no one will ever tell what it is. Maybe we should check the Disney vault!

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