I just finished reading Libby Znaimer's book In Cancer Land and I have to admit that I didn't enjoy it.
That it's only my unfaltering anal-ism and need to finish everything I start, that I suffered through the entire book. And now that I've finally finished it, I feel caught in a funk. And it didn't help, as I lay in bed, still recovering from the autogenous reconstruction after my mastectomy, that I read in the last few pages her discounting my kind of breast cancer as "Stage 0", and not really "considered cancer by some doctors."
I thought back to being told that my 7cm mass was considered stage 2 out of 3 (ratings for DCIS) and that the angels must have been watching me as it came within 0.01mm from spreading to my sentinel nodes. That I am now counting the days until my May 24 MRI since I am being watched closely with semi annual check ups, alternating the mammogram with the MRI.
But being reminded of the stats also helped deflate me even though so many more women survive now because of early detection and better treatments then they did 20+ years ago.
And Libby's other C word: cured. Are you ever really considered cured or is the notion of cancer reoccurring something you just live with, painfully reminded of the chances at ever doctor's appointment. How did Libby phrase it? Something like "you don't die OF breast cancer, you die WITH breast cancer."
And as much as I don't want breast cancer to define me, I can't help being reminded of it every time I have a shower or get undressed. Or when asked how I am, I wonder if it is a reference to what I've gone through - though thankfully that's easing with time.
Some days are more exhausting than others but I think the personal weight this book created means it will have to find itself a new home. Even if it is personally autographed by the author.