This Thing Called Cancer-Unwanted Visitor…..

Placeholder ImageMy name is Gigi and I’ve created this blog to updated  my journey. I hope that others out there that are facing these same decisions find my blog encouraging and informative. After doing much research, discussing things with doctors, I concluded that a prophylactic (preventative) bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts) would be my personal best decision. By having this surgery, I reduce my risk of getting breast cancer by 90%. Women are so much more than a pair of breasts. We are just made to believe that breasts are what makes us sexy. We are made to believe that without our breasts we are not complete. But I was ok with it. I was alive. Maybe I was in shock. Who knows.

As I recovered from mastectomy surgery, I was anxious to get back to “normal” as quickly as possible and I tried not to talk incessantly about cancer, even though in those early days it was always on my mind. After the first couple of months, when most of my family and friends had stopped asking about my health, I told myself their silence was entirely appropriate. After all, I didn’t look any different than I had before. Though I had chosen not to have reconstruction, I wore breast forms. I had opted to do that in part because I didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that I’d had breast cancer. So, why should I expect people to keep asking about my breast cancer?

I’ve sometimes wondered whether my women friends and relatives refrain from asking how I’m doing because of fear — the anxiety that they might be the next person diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s not an unrealistic concern, given how many women are diagnosed each year. Mostly, women manage not to dwell on it, but maybe my diagnosis had brought that fear to the surface for those close to me and reminded them of their own mortality. Asking how I’m doing might bring the fear rushing back, so perhaps it’s easier not to. I’ve also imagined that people might feel awkward about my breast-free state. Maybe they’d rather not think about the fact that I have a flat chest. I’d like to tell them that the flatness doesn’t bother me, that I’m just glad to be alive. Maybe I’d make a joke or two about my lack of cleavage. Maybe I’d even offer to show them. But it’s not a conversation I feel free to initiate myself.

Of course, it’s possible that I’ve got things backward. Maybe my family and friends would love to ask me lots of questions, like how I feel about having chosen non-reconstruction, or whether I have any lasting side-effects from treatment, or if I’ve had any cancer-recurrence scares. Maybe they’re curious about all of that, but don’t want to intrude and don’t realize that I’d welcome their interest. Have you had feelings like mine about the reactions of your family and friends? Or do you prefer that people not ask how you’re doing, since you’re trying to move on? I’d love to hear from you about the things people have asked, or not asked, since you’ve finished your active treatment.