Today, an old friend called to check on me. She asked how I was. I explained the severe Radiation burns, peeling skin, open sores, heart issues, but overall, I am getting better. Then she said, “Sounds like you are getting back to normal.” Immediately, out of my mouth came this:
“There is no normal, there is no going back, I am not the same person I was, and I have no idea who I am.” I apologized for kind of jumping on her, but it is obviously a sensitive area to me. And it is a good question to ponder. If I could go back, would I go back? The answer is no. The last 11 months have been one huge learning experience. I told someone I learned more in the last 11 months than I did in the previous 55 years leading up to Breast Cancer. It isn’t the learning about the Breast Cancer that is the learning part, although that certainly contributes. It is the learning about life, relationships, God, health, and what is important.
Breast Cancer has changed the way I think about almost everything–religion, politics, education, health, food, diet, friends, enemies, and the list goes on… So based upon that alone, it is impossible to go back. Oh sure, absolutely I am still Denise. But in some ways even with a broken but healing body, I am a new Denise. It is evident in my cells…old cells have died, new cells in their place. Old hair is gone, new hair in its place.
I’ve started to go “topless” which in the breast cancer community means going without my wig. A year ago I would have never considered going anywhere with the little bit of hair I now have on my head. Now it is a cause for celebration. I had to go to a social event on Saturday where I always used to worry about what I looked like to others. This year, it didn’t matter to me in the least. Of course, I wanted to look attractive and presentable, but no longer did my thoughts go to, “how do I look?” I know I look the best I can today. And that is all I have.
I used to worry about what people think of me. That never even crosses my mind now. It really makes no difference what people think of me. I know who I am, and that is what matters. Let anyone think what they want to think. It is their brain. And I freed my own brain from that limited thinking.
And so it all begins. Deciphering who I am. It is a great thing! I am celebrating this time because it is cause for celebration. A birth is taking place.