Cancer Support Group, a funeral, and the unveiling of emotions

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Today I spoke with the facilitator of the Breast Cancer Support Group down at Cancer Connection in Northampton, MA.  I am joining this group.  I will not be able to attend for a couple of weeks due to my teaching schedule, but I plan to work my new schedule around this… I need this for me.

I have read that it is very common to hit an emotional rollercoaster when you are almost through your treatment or finalizing your care.  I believe this is and has been happening to me for a few weeks.  When I call my Dr’s office to set up or change an appointment and they answer “Mass General Cancer Center” my muscles flinch, my skin crawls and my throat and chest become so tight that I have to remind myself to breathe.   My life has changed, it changed the day I was called back in for more images from the mammogram in March of 2009 and it certainly changed after the biopsy came back showing two types of cancer.  Even typing this right now I feel anxiety.  Funny, for the past what? 17 months I have been fine, really.  A couple rough days, but all in all I have dealt with it all with very little tears.  Now it seems the tears come easily and fear keeps knocking on my chest, my head wanting to take up permanent residence… I resist, I fight it… I am exhausted.

Tonight I went to calling hours for my girlfriends mother.  She was only 62.  Stacey, my girlfriend is 10 years younger than me.  She is a wonderful person with a huge heart, a great mother, wife, daughter and friend.  As my friend Mark and I neared the porch of the funeral home I had flashbacks to the last funeral I went to…My Uncle Len’s.  He was a jolly loving man who always had a huge smle on his face.  I adored him.  I remember specifically walking up to the porch of the funeral home at his service and all the while I was walking up there I was feeling unbelievable grief.  When I reached the porch and saw my cousin Mike, it hit me, I am NOT at my sisters funeral again, this isn’t about me… this is about my Uncle, my Aunt, My cousins, their children…. I don’t really know how to explain it better than that.  Just that I was living in so much pain the months prior since my sister died that it was all I knew.  It consumed me.  Embracing my cousin who burst into tears was the beginning of my healing.   Everyone experiences loss and it is so hard.   Tonight my friend Stacey, her dad, her sisters, their children, her aunts, uncles were there in celebration of Darlene Hutchins life and also to say goodbye.  My heart went out to all of them.    Loss is so very difficult to go through and grief, well that is another process entirely.  Nor an easy one at that.

A friend posted a very well written article on the topic of cancer which I read.  I could relate on many levels.  I forwarded this to another friend whom is also a cancer survivor.  Not to dwell in the diagnosis but  to relate.   This is why I am joining the Cancer Connection.  I need to be with other women who have and are experiencing what I have and am going through.  I need to talk about this with others who understand how I feel.  I  am so fortunate, I have MANY people who love me and want to help but unless you have been here you cannot fully understand and even if you have, everyones circumstances are different.

I was reminded today of the immense trauma my body and soul has been through over the past 17 months.  I remember feeling subhuman after the double mastectomies and when the expanders were placed.  I have thought about that lately as I have experienced touch again, human touch.  It is such an amazing feeling when you have not had it for so long, and particularly after going thru such traumatic body changes.  It has really reawakened my body.  It’s a nice thing.

I hope you never have to experience anything like this but if you do?  I hope you have the love and support of family and friends that I did.  I was one of the lucky ones.  I was surrounded with people who wanted to help.  And going thru this without a partner strengthened my self confidence, self esteem… but damn it’s one hell of a way to get it! 🙂

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