Self(ish) Pity

You know those beautiful girls that think they are defective because one eye is slightly smaller than the other?  The ones with bodies that are perfection that show you that spot of dimpled flesh and offer it as proof they are overweight?  I feel like one of those now.

April 29, I received my diagnosis that I had breast cancer in my left breast (which is lovingly referred to as my left’s) and after much testing and negotiation with my surgeon, was able to have the best summer ever filled with fun with my family.  I had surgery on July 7 and the margins tested clear, so that portion of the treatment is over.  I await the decision on my final treatment plan which is dependent on the results of a genetic test.

My reason for feeling like I am delusional regarding my diagnosis is that I get a lot of “keep up the fights” and “stay strong” ‘s tossed my way.  I get offers of help with things like cooking even now, sixteen days post surgery.  I feel the love and appreciate the love, but am confused about it.

My fight has so far consisted of being dosed up with a giant dose of valium or xanax, and wheeled into surgery.  My biggest concern is whether I told the absolutely studly nurse that gave it to me how attractive I thought he was.  Even the lumpectomy scar is minimal and there is no indent….It’s like I cheated at cancer.  I found a way to have cancer, not feel sick and have almost no cutout of flesh that is noticeable.

My desire to do an end zone dance is curtailed by a more sickening than gloating over the ease in which I am doing this whole thing and that is my self pity.  I had a terrific bout of it when I met with my oncologist for the first time.  For those of you out of the cancer loop, the oncologist is the Big Chief of Cancer treatments, The Head Man In Charge, the quarterback of team Mary’s left breast’s cancer fight.

I came to the appointment, not really knowing what to expect. It’s not like I have had a lot of cancer exposure in the past and I am avoiding the websites that deal in glorifying the worst-possible case scenarios and gruesome pictures of them.  I was shocked when I saw the average age of the patients pegging in at 80 and several wheelchairs in use. I was feeling a little sick to my stomach when the man with cap indicating which ship he served on in the military and the man with the loudmouth wife next to me started discussing their probability of this being the end for them as their cancer was in several organs.  I was sad when the sweet man with the loud wife responded to her question about whether it was chemo that made him so sick and wasn’t that what they were there for? I felt like a cancer impersonator.

And then my thoughts of not belonging turned to another and more vile one.  I did belong there.  It was exactly where I was supposed to be and IT IS UNFAIR!  IT’S NOT FAIR.  Why?  Why am I the only person in my family to have breast cancer?  Why am the one in eight?  What did I do?  Will this be my new future?  Some kind of cancer to deal with, get cut out and then radiated to eternity?  Even the oncologist’s words of comfort regarding my long term outlook sounded as freakishly inappropriate as the “keep strong” and “fight like a girl” ‘s that I was/am confused by.

So, I wallow in self-pity right now.  Having a pity party for one.  Drinking cups of selfishness by the gallon.

Truth is, I am lucky.  I am lucky to have a highly curable form of cancer.  Lucky that it’s hormone receptive to lessen chances of return.  Lucky to be the one in my family to get it because I am physically the strongest.  Lucky to have the resources necessary that I didn’t blink when told how much the genetic test might cost me.  Lucky to have insurance. Lucky to live in a country that I don’t have to wait to see a specialist–I was diagnosed less than ten days after finding the lump.  Lucky to have friends that care enough to tell me to fight. I am lucky.

So, keep telling me to fight.  My fight is with my head and there are days that it fools my body into thinking it’s ordinary and makes doubt creep in.  My fight is with that…Cancer can go fuck itself.



  1. Go ahead and feel terrible about beating this horrendous curse on life. Suffice to say that we’ll just go on celebrating this wonder and all-too-rare victory for you. Great piece.



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