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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Am I really a robot or why do I keep plugging along?

So from the time of my self-diagnosis to the time of the surgery (please see this post for the latest) to remove the two malignant tumors it has been about 4 weeks. Pretty amazing in the scheme of things to move so quickly from self-detection to diagnosis to surgical remedy.

I know many of you have been very concerned about me--not just from a physical point-of-view but from a mental/emotional health point-of-view. Because I just seem so unfazed by it all. I am all business--direct and upfront about what I need to be doing to get treated and move forward. Many of you have sent me messages of love and support that also admire my strength and resolve. Others have been concerned that I seem to maybe be in a bit of denial or trying to do too much or am not dealing/processing with the emotional component of the disease.

But here's the thing: I'm not trying t be strong or brave or courageous. And I'm not in denial--I know I could die from cancer. There have been too many instances of cancer in both sides of my family for me not to understand the ramifications of this disease. I'm also not trying to be superwoman. Not consciously at least. Right now I'm just doing what I think needs to happen to give myself the best health outcome and odds of survival.

And perhaps what helps is knowing that breast cancer is a very treatable disease if caught early and if treated immediately (and fairly aggressively or at least assertively). I have the examples of so many women close to me who are 25 plus years in remission after going through their own surgeries and treatments. None of it was easy for them. And I know it won't be easy for me. I am truly not thinking that this is no big deal. It is a big deal. And somewhere inside me I know this, and I know that I am waiting for a time when both my body and mind can slow down.

When that time happens, I am sure I will be in for a break down. Huge. It's a fairly common pattern that I follow. Highly functional in the midst of a crisis or grief--good at compartementalizing when I need to and being organized and getting things done. But when things finally settle down, I open the door on all those emotions and they come flooding in.

It's a coping strategy and defense maneuver--one that I'm not even consciously trying to deploy but that just happens. I know this worries some people and freaks people out. I think it's also evident that my current way of handling everything is to process with language (hence this blog) and to feel anger--that is the most accessible emotion I have right now--and oddly enough, it feels productive to me (whether it is or not remains to be seen, although I will point out that if I hadn't gotten enraged and then moved by my anger to demand a biopsy appointment, I would not have gotten an appointment until right now--although I also owe Kathy at Mammography a HUGE THANKS for her part in getting me seen immediately--THANK YOU KATHY!).

Anyway, I wanted to write this because I'm not superhuman. I'm not even particularly brave or strong. I'm just me and this is the way that feels right to handle things for now. I know I'm going to need help to get through the next few weeks and months. And I promise, I will ask for help. So thanks for trusting me and letting me have the space to figure out how I want to deal with all this, emotionally and mentally. And if you do see me breaking down or freaking out I hope you'll be OK with that part of me too.

3 comments:

  1. Dear Jennifer,

    I really really really appreciate this blog. You are such a powerful woman....exactly why I asked you to be faculty advisor. You'll certainly be in my prayers (sorry if you're not religious), and I wish you the very very best.

    Much love,
    Angela J.

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  2. Good luck today Jen.
    Re: the pink ribbons. I believe Alex has several LIVESTRONG bracelets you can have instead. He gets them every year or two at his follow-up checkup. We try to get creative with them but those things are pretty indestructible.

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  3. Highly functional in the midst of a crisis or grief--good at compartementalizing when I need to and being organized and getting things done. But when things finally settle down, I open the door on all those emotions and they come flooding in.


    That's me to the proverbial tee. Everybody has different ways of processing and part of being able to get through things is knowing how you handle them - it sounds like you've got an excellent handle on yourself and where you're at with everything. Strength and resolve indeed!

    Wishing you all the best :3

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