Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Handling any major life event requires some degree of compartmentalization. (Otherwise, how would we get anything else done?) Dealing with cancer is no different. 

I am by nature a "big picture" thinker. I tend to look not only at the details that comprise my life, but how the sum of those details become my world. And before BC, I would have bet money that this mode of thinking would have been my greatest asset in dealing with this illness. But post BC, I find the opposite to be true. 

If I spend too much time looking at the big picture these days, it creates way too much anxiety. I get all hyped up and worried and filled with fear, and my ability to think rationally marches right out the front door. It's better for me to stay deep within the forest — not looking for the trees so much as focusing on the veins in the leaves. I call this small-picture skillset my blinder mentality. I imagine myself as a race horse, saddled and ready to run, but with special rose-colored glasses that enable me to see just the matters at hand. The stuff I can control today, in this hour, in this minute. 

Because it is all about CONTROL. If cancer teaches anything — and its lessons are unending — it is the new truth that you are most certainly not in control. Here's how the phenomenon presents itself.

You are riding along on the magic carpet ride of life when suddenly the beautiful, fanciful rug that you weaved for yourself and your family, the rug you have loved dearly all your days, is pulled abruptly out from under you. You — family and all — fall quickly, and with a loud thud, to the ground. 

You help your family up first, because that is what you do. Then you figure out how to pick yourself up. You stumble and drag your sorry ass to the nearest chair. You look around but nothing is familiar anymore. Everything has changed: different colors, different smells, different people (who are all those men in white coats?). It's a completely different land. And you never asked for any of it.

You never wanted to move to the edge of the cliff. You don't care to know the generic names of half a dozen prescription meds. You have no desire to spend your day in a waiting room (or, worse, waiting for a pathology report). You just want your old life back, dammit. You want what you had before cancer: control

But that is the very thing breast cancer strips away from us. And even though we know it, BC makes sure we never forget that we most definitely do not have control. Never did. Never will. Duh. 

Unfortunately there's no way back to the world we were so comfortable in before (or at least the world we thought we were comfortable in). Cancer leaves us in chaos that will drive us absolutely, positively and 100% completely mad if we focus on it. And so we don't. We can't. That's what The Blinders are for. We pull 'um out, put 'um on ... and off to the races we go.

So rather than worry how many more weeks it will be until I can get in to see the master surgeon who will ultimately remove this cancer growing inside my breast and tell me whether it has (or has not) spread beyond the milk duct in which it has likely been growing for years and refer me to a plastic surgeon who will do his very best to put Humpty Dumpty back together again before he sends me off to see the Wizard of Oncology, I WILL drink a tall, cool glass of water, eat my pesticide-free tomatoes and lay down to take a nap. 

Because these days, in my new small-picture world, that is how I roll.

(See Intuition for more of the story.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are encouraging — and encouraged!