Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How I Feel...

Have you ever avoided a head-on car collision?  You know that heart-pounding, life re-evaluating, ever-so-thankful-you-didn't-die feeling?  Times that by about 1000.  That's how I feel. 

Ever since I got the all-clear on July 19, my mind is reeling.  I am thankful, I am relieved, I am evaluating what I can do better as a person (and the list is long). 

And I ask myself a lot of what-ifs, like what if I hadn't scratched under my boob late that Sunday night? 

What if I hadn't shed nearly 50 lbs? 

What if my OB/GYN wouldn't have ordered a mammogram when I went in for my annual lube, oil & filter this summer because I wasn't 40 yet?

What if I hadn't eaten a lot of soy products and had an IUD?  What if I created the perfect storm for breast cancer?

Then I think about my good fortune and the thankfulness takes over.  I am thankful that I caught my breast cancer early, thankful that I got the BEST CARE POSSIBLE.  Thankful that I had the A-Team of Doctors and health care professionals.  Winnie the scheduler is officially my hero.  She's the MacGyver of all schedulers, who can make a hole in a surgical schedule appear out of nowhere, using nothing but determination and moxie.

Dr. Nathalie Johnson, my surgeon, who never treated me like a patient, but someone who needed to be treated like a person and didn't need clinical jargon.  God Bless her.  I'll miss her warm loving hugs.

And Margie Glissmeyer, the formidable oncologist who presented me with options for care, and only after I made my choice told me in such a way that I had made the right decision, without seeming judgemental about any of the choices or routes I could have taken.

And then the guilt sets in.  I know it seems so stupid to feel guilty that I have the best possible outcome you could want, save for not ever having had breast cancer.  But I have talked to a few other Survivors who had it way worse than I, and I feel like I'm cheating on my algebra quiz because I got off easy.

So many women out there I know personally had it a lot tougher, they got the full-meal deal: chemo, mastectomy, reconstruction, radiation, tamoxifen and all I had to do was order up a couple of items from the dollar menu and I'm fine.  It's good to be Catholic so you can really wallow in the guilt thing, eh?

And then I start thinking of what I can do better, now that I've cheated an early death by complete accident.  Yeah, top of the list is better wife, and better mother.  More time with my kids and husband.  Less time on the iPhone.  More time coloring pictures, playing games, kissing and hugging and so many other things.

And then I go right back to feeling like I just avoided that life-crushing head on collision.  One day, I want to just feel happy.


Liz said...

Oh the guilt. I have spent a lot of time thinking about guilt and I'm not even Catholic! I wrote a whole blog post about it. I wouldn't be surprised if you end up having some PTSD-like feelings/effects. As you know, with Finley, we ended up with a pretty awesome case scenario after a rough start and there are so many that don't get to even make it home with their baby. It breaks my heart every time.. but I am SOOO thankful to have our girl. Survivor guilt is such a very real thing. But you just have to process it and let it go. I firmly believe we are blessed to be a blessing and I know you won't squander your blessing. You are meant to do great things (no pressure) and that other path wasn't where you were to go right now. We rejoice with you in this time of celebration. You have been through a lot (in a short amount of time) and it will take time to process it all and that's ok.

I love these verses...

“To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal …
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance …
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

LatteLover said...

Beautifully stated, Liz. (((hugs))) to both of you amazing women, who are taking personal struggles and turning them into personal missions to help others. You are both heroes of mine, and I will do anything I can to help you both. Amy, let the guilt GO. Let the meals come in, let the offers for help come in, and spend that time playing monopoly with Brady or dressing Barbies with Kaylee. Thank you you sharing your story, your true feelings, on your blog. I love you girl!

Heather Bennett said...

Amy, my heart goes out to you in this time of looking at life through the window of an almost head-on collision. Perspective - you taught me well when you said, "Go home and be with your family" and "we're not saving lives!" O Amy, of all people, you got it even before all this happened. Have you heard the song about "what if your blessings come through raindrops, what if your healing comes through tears?" Well, maybe you and I are getting a blessing where God has our full attention, where we are radically changed. I can't wait to see you. Sending hugs and more hugs and can't wait to give you a real one in August. Love you!