This post was going to be a very different one when I began it on Friday.
I decided it was time for me to address the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many also consider it a time to talk about all women’s cancers.
(Go here to learn more about all that)
I just looked at it as a month filled with The C Word That Won’t Leave Me Alone.
I had originally started the post like this:
Every so often I think one can be allowed to use naughty words & gestures.
This is going to be one of those times for me.
Please, everyone, take a moment with me. Put down your coffee, stop scrolling the mouse, quit biting your nail, and raise your hands up high.
Now join me in giving The Finger to Cancer. Both hands, please.
I was tired from, well, Life.
And I had a day that just rubbed the Cancer Factor all up in my face.
Let me start at the beginning:
Insurance only covers one Lady Parts Peek-N-Poke Appointment a year. I had to wait until Friday for my next covered appointment. I put it on the calendar a while ago, forgetting about it until this week.
The day comes, I dump the kids at school, race to the grocery store, throw the bags at my fridge, then race to the OB/GYN office. I make it on time by the skin of my teeth * to the appointment to see how things are going in there, how bumpy the baby bits are this year.
*Story of my life since having bambinos.
Then I am weighed, blood pressured, etc etc and am told to put on my gown and have a seat.
So I sat.
And then the A/C kicked on.
And so I continued to sit in my threadbare too-short gown for 45 minutes in Arctic conditions with nothing to read but a way-too-informative graphic poster about Lady Parts. Not to mention I was being stared down by the frosty speculum on the counter just waiting to give my dark private place freezerburn.
This does not put one in a good mood.
Now, I have PCOS . This means instead of ovulating like a normal person, my junk tries, fails, and I get cysts on my ovaries instead of popping out a little potential baby-maker. So every year I need to get a Rx from my Lady Parts Doctor for an ultrasound at that appointment.
These appointments, since I’m done having kids, are usually pretty quick yet thorough, I get my Rx, and off I go on my merry way all swabbed and felt-up for the year, with only a routine u/s to fit into my schedule at some point. No biggie.
However, since Mom’s diagnosis of Peritoneal Cancer last March, I should have known the game would change.
Now every single time I see a doctor for myself or my kids I have to talk about Cancer. I have to talk about how my Mom is currently fighting Cancer, last year my father requested to turn the machines off that were keeping him alive (barely) with Cancer, my paternal Aunt is not doing well with her own Cancer fight, plus the other smatterings of Cancer victims in the family.
After a wait just 10 minutes short of An Eternity, the Lady Parts Doctor comes in. She get all serious after I review all this information that is new to her, and tells me:
1. She thinks I should get the Ovarian Cancer blood test, “just to be sure” (Mom’s Cancer was wrapped around one of her ovaries, though it wasn’t techically Ovarian Cancer). If insurance doesn’t cover it, the cost is $500. Super.
2. Sit with a Geneticist to get a full review of all the Cancers mapped out, to see if getting the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic tests would be beneficial to me and/or my kids. This test may tell us our susceptibility of getting Cancer in the future. Can’t wait for that fun chat.
3. At my ultrasound, the technician will not only be looking for the oft-found cysts on my ovaries, but looking to see if there’s any tumors lurking around in there. I’m sure I won’t be at all anxious waiting for those results.
What this means, is that even though I am not diagnosed with Cancer (knockonwood), it has deftly woven itself into my life. All reports thus far are that I am okay, my kids are okay, but still.
Cancer is the Ugly Ex-Stepbrother who somehow shows up at all the parties, even though you purposely forget to send the invite. He gets drunk, spills Rum & Coke on your couch and makes sexist jokes in front of Grandma. He’s that guy. And he won’t lose my address.
I can’t even get a frigging PAP smear without Cancer getting all up in my grill. I never thought these appointments could get any less pleasant than they are already. Lesson learned.
Cancer sucks. It is the true bully of our time. It is sneaky, clever, sticky, and cruel.
Cancer is quite good at psychological warfare. It has sprayed my family with it’s shrapnal, and I can’t tell if any of it has landed on me yet.
This is the frame of mind I left the appointment with, then I came home to confirm that instead of leaving at lunchtime for my annual Girls’ Spa Weekend, I had to wait until about 7pm. Add that to the Cranky Kim Piggybank and tally the tension in my neck.
So I started this post (as stated above), but just put it on hold. I wanted to put it out of my mind just for a couple days. I was about to see my girlfriends and have time off from all my responsibilities. Cancer is always looking over my shoulder, so I figured it wouldn’t let me forget about this post after the weekend.
My drive to the spa was supposed to take an hour, and it took two.
I arrived bleary-eyed, hungry, tired, with a head full of Cancer thoughts I continued to push away. Not to mention that I haven’t had a real break from being Dutiful Wife, Terrible Housekeeper, Stressed-Out Mom, Anxious Wannabe Writer, Non-Sleeper for an entire year. I felt heavy and distracted.
After checking in, I walked into the suite to find my 3 girlfriends sitting around the table eating dinner, drinking wine, and playing Dirty Mad Libs.
Within 13 minutes, we were laughing so hard we were all crying.
It was because of my girlfriends that I forgot about the Cancer for the rest of my time there.
I committed myself to doing only the things I really wanted to do that weekend: get massaged, laugh, sleep in, take pictures, sit in a hot tub, get outside into nature, laugh, eat good food, drink champagne, laugh some more, nap, shop, and talk about everything and anything that my friends and I wanted to.
The next morning I stood on the patio breathing in the cool fresh air and watched the clouds glide over trees joyfully bursting with the colors of Fall.
After breakfast I had the first of two massages that weekend. As the knots were kneaded away, I let my mind take in the crystal clacking of the bottles and slithery smacking as she warmed the oils in her hands. I let the heated table soften my body, then my mind. I let go.
Later I trailed behind two good friends (the 3rd was getting massaged) who weren’t bothered that I kept stopping to capture pictures of the little things that made me happy during our walk.
We got back to the property, and after just an hour’s walk I began to notice the beauty I wasn’t looking for. My eyes fell onto the flowers that I hadn’t seen at first pass.
Then on our way in, we came across three outdoor beds. Brief Autumnal outdoor naps ensued.
This weekend was only with three of the women in my life, but I felt all my girlfriends represented. Those who weren’t chatting with me while in our PJs were still somehow with me. The ones who offered to help watch my kids this weekend, the ones who listened to me rant about the annoying doctor appointment, the ones who don’t live close, the ones I see all the time and the ones I don’t get to see enough. They were all there. I wasn’t alone in any sense, even when no one else was around.
My girlfriends give me the freedom to be myself un-judged and fully supported. They know when to step in and give unrequested advice, and when to just pat me on the head and let me decide. They make me laugh and think and love. Because of them, my life is richer. I am better. I am a better friend, person, wife, mother, daughter, sister, member of society. Without them I’d be lost.
This is why we need to kick Cancer’s butt. Because on my way home my thoughts about Cancer weren’t of anger, they were of love. They were a passionate desire to eradicate something that could hurt these women in my life. I need them. I need me – I’m a woman too! So this month of Women’s Cancer Awareness is important. We need to keep my girlfriends healthy for long lives, so they can keep making this world a more beautiful place. They can keep making me a better person.
You know how in the fall you see those bunches of tall white daisy-looking flowers growing all over? You know how no matter what time of day it is, they are always stretching their stems so their faces are bathed in sunlight and they always achieve their fullest potential of beauty? That’s how my girlfriends make me feel. That should be enough to motivate me through my future medical testing and exams. It is more than enough to motivate me to encourage my girlfriends to take care of themselves, too.
My trip home was almost over. I felt no more tension in my shoulders, in my belly, in my mind. I felt at ease, happy. My friends took a whole year’s worth of stress and left it somewhere back at the spa. I was going home a better person after just two nights away with them. They opened up my eyes to the beauty around me, the love and peace within me. They even made a 90-minute drive home solo more enjoyable.
On the drive home the golden pink sun pushed into the horizon as wind tousled my hair from the open windows and Frank Sinatra filled my ears with memories of dancing with Hubby at many a wedding over our years together. I longed to be home kissing him Thank You and laughing at my kids as they tell me every single thing they did over the past 48 hours. I felt light and alive and present.
I thank the women in my life for that.