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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The break from blogging and cancer

So first of all, an apology. Both for the long lapse between blog posts (I knew it had been a while, but June 5??? That's a REALLY long time) and for not explaining that I'd be taking a break from blogging.

Of course, the truth is, I didn't realize that I was taking a break from blogging. Maybe more specifically, taking a break from thinking about cancer. My cancer. My post-cancer life. Being N.E.D. (no evidence of disease). But a while ago, when someone asked me if I was still blogging on this site, I said that I wanted to take a break from thinking of myself as someone with cancer or someone who had had cancer.

But I should have said this all in a brief post--especially because looking at the last post, where I'm about to see whether I have a cyst or malignancy on my uterus, it leaves people wondering a bit. So the first thing I'll say is that my ultrasound was clear. All is good. And my follow-up appointment with my surgeon was also good (I think that happened a few days after I wrote the last post). I'm taking Tamoxifen, and aside from a few hot flashes, mostly at night (2-3 episodes), I don't seem to be having any side effects. I am, by all physical evidence at least, the vision of health. I've been exercising and lost a few of the pounds I gained in the spring semester when I was too weary to do anything beyond teach and sleep. My mental health is good--or at least I'm no longer experiencing a low level depression. And there doesn't seem to be any signs of cancer in my body that they can detect through blood work of physical examination--and my body seems to be holding up pretty well so far, meaning I'm having no other health issues and feel fine.

So I'm a healthy person. I look like a healthy person. I feel like a healthy person.

Yet there is that little question in the back of my mind--am I? Or perhaps more accurately, "for how long?" Because truthfully, even if I never have a recurrence, as my body ages I will probably have some kind of health issue where I experience a period of not being well--of being disabled--of being ill. We all will. It's a sobering thought. And the fact that I think this way is probably a sign both of what I've recently experienced with cancer/chemo/surgery as well as a sign that I'm getting older and recognizing that my 41 year old body is not my 21 year old body and will one day be a 61 year old body with different types of challenges (joints, I'm told, become a problem as we age). In other words, these are the musings of a middle-age person not of a young, vibrant 20-something or teen or even 30 something person--at least not someone who hasn't been through or witnessed intimately the deterioration of someone else's body or their own for a period of time.

Anyway, I thought about whether I wanted to take this blog down, but I think that there are still things I'm exploring and figuring out about living my life post-cancer. And there are certainly things about cancer in the world that I think are worth commenting on--like this piece in The New York Times about the language of cancer--especially all those "fighting" words we associate with the disease. And there's the presentation I gave at the annual meeting of the Association of Asian American Studies--one that talked about my experiences with getting breast cancer and the lack of Asian American models and stories out there. It was the most intimate presentation I have ever given--and while I was nervous when I first started to read my paper, by the end I had found my stride and really felt comfortable talking about what I'd been through, both from a personal as well as intellectual point-of-view.

So I'm not done blogging here. I may not be updating on a regular basis--there will probably be weeks between posts. But if you are curious about what life is like for one particular former stage 2 breast cancer patient, please continue to tune in.