Thinking about the changes that are coming...

I really do a pretty good job of forgetting that I have breast cancer...all the kids are a big help with this, plus the fact that I feel the same healthy that I have felt throughout my whole life. It is weird that I can be sitting here, just like I've been here all the days before this, feeling the same way, and yet so soon all that will change. I'll collect even more scars, I'll be recovering from surgery, I'll be doing chemo and have whatever side effects that will bring... I wonder if I would welcome all of those changes more if I was already feeling like I had cancer, instead of just feeling like I am Pam.

The part of this that is bothering me the most is the ramifications that having/treating/living with breast cancer will do for my whole life - lifestyle, goals, etc. I have always liked to do everything myself - carrying my own bags, moving my own furniture upstairs or down (pregnant or not pregnant), doing a lot of crazy hard labor in the yard. Bill has gotten used to this and knows that the best way he can support me is by watching the kids while I push myself to exhaustion doing whatever silly and unnecessary project I've taken on. It is bothering me that there is the possibility that I won't be as able as I've been before - for whatever reason. I do feel like I can give up this do-it-herself attitude for the short-term, but if anything goes another way and this keeps following me around, I'm going to be more upset.

I'm upset that some of my goals may or may not be altered - the big one is that I've been aspiring my whole life to be an old, matronly lady. I know that is a crazy goal, but my mom died at 38 and so my whole life I've wanted to live to be really old. I've been thinking my whole life that grey hair and sagginess and wrinkles would be my own little triumphs, that I wouldn't mind them so much as it meant I had actually lived a long (and hopefully fruitful) life. I know the goal and hope is that I can do that, and I plan to do that, but still it feels like getting this at 34 is thwarting the old age part of the my life's spectrum, somehow.

It even feels sad that some things I didn't want could be gone now. I have 3 wonderful, amazing kids, and I had almost made up my mind that it was time to move on and live life with these children instead of having any more children. Being the kind of person who wants to live vigorously, it was never enough when there is snow to have Bill go sledding with the kids, or have him go on the bike rides while I stayed home...I want to be doing everything and pregnancy and watching little ones stands in that way. Now that that door is closing more definitively, I'm sad about it. It's going to be a long road ahead, and even if my fertility comes back, I'll be older and I'll have no breasts for feeding those babies.

I'm not so crazy about breastfeeding that I feel like I would have to do it, and it had it's annoyances, but still, it was so easy for me that I generally always was walking around with enough milk to feed the neighborhood. I'm sad that these things that I never really appreciated except for feeding will be gone....I know it is dumb but I am almost mourning them. And I'm ashamed at myself for taking them for granted!

I'm sure all of these things have the potential to bother anyone as they grow older - the loss of some of physical ability, the idea that time is running out on some of your goals, the fact that your days of having young children or the option of having children are running out. I know some of these things bother even younger people, too - people who injure themselves in some way, people who have a physical handicap, women with fertility issues. I guess that is what I need to remember. Yes, it is still a huge shock for me that I have breast cancer and these changes ahead. Yes, it is sobering to think that there could be some limitations on the scope of my life ahead. But, I am not alone. I'm not alone with breast cancer, but I'm also not alone in being a youngish person who might now have more limited options than a normal youngish person might have.

I'll just have to count this as another one of my blessings since the diagnosis...having breast cancer has opened up my eyes even more to the difficulties that so many people face. It's OK to me if I have to learn how to face some of these issues - even if it was earlier than I would have ever expected - and do it gracefully. It was my goal to grow old very gracefully. Now if I'm lucky, I might be able to do it twice (once this year, and once when I get to be really old)!

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