33 years ago, Christmas my mother died of pneumonia and metastasized breast cancer. The cause of my mom’s death was plausibly secondary after she succumbed to breast cancer. Nobody questioned her remission nor scoffed at mine. Perhaps her death prepared them for my disease. Always inadvertently the ‘black sheep’, family was not embarrassed bein’s my disease was the ‘unmentionable’ sort, not a brain tumor or diabetes, but with my boobs. Conservative as they are, I expected avoidance. Yet they did not react in shock with the news one of their kin had succumbed to breast cancer, but especially respectful after my mother died.
All their open arms was such a relief, love very overtly reassuring me, so concerned that I would be alright. Did they all know just how traumatized I was? Because all of a sudden, my foxhole shriveled down around me. My family comforted me. They ALL smothered me with texts and real hugs intent to “make it all better”– and my response was that child welcoming her gramma’s smushy hug, lovin’ on a flush-faced, curly, auburnish-haired little girl. In my grown-up mind, kicking breast cancer’s ass was my intent, all the while I shivered in fear under the covert rationale of maturity. Common sense be damned. And social media be damned too, keeping a good face was only as a reassurance for standard friends, not the close eye of my friends inside my circle. They guarded my progress with touching sympathetic messages and face to face concern …
out of reflex
Sounds simple, accuse me of O.C.D., but more out of reflex, I caught myself typing the as ‘the mastectomy’ rather than my mastectomy (possessive). I guess because I had trouble owning my breast cancer. A real psychotic quandary then as it does no good because you can’t fight what you don’t quite believe is there. And if you can’t fight that something, you sure as hell can’t WIN any battle. There was no escape mode, no delete button here. I knew in my bones this was no imaginary battle. Damn! My own war cry deafened me — in nightmares and awake I donned virtual ancient armor of survival, fear had brought me to my knees, baring my soul in my headstrong will to survive.
Over-analyzing did NO good. Despite the facts about genetics, I still didn’t understand how breast cancer simply showed up in my mother and killed her, then was in myself. With everything else, it was too much stress. Took me months to really own that breast cancer had belonged to me. No, it did not belong in me. It didn’t own me. But the very fact it had been in my body, essentially it had belonged to me. Oh my God that terrified me! That ownership shook me to my bones. That realization gave me instant heebie-jeebies like the jolt of discovering a tarantula crawling on me — I had dream scenes that my whole body jerked in reflex to yank it off screaming to squash it! KILL IT!! Another damn monster! Get it out of me! I suddenly felt and acted like a sissy girl terrified of bugs. I’ve never been prissy. But I was petrified! It had all invaded my subconscious too with moments of terrifying tarantulas, monsters and the Rougarou skulking in shadows… And I’m not ashamed to admit that I wanted to run screaming to the next county like a crazed scaredy-cat little-sissy girl with a damn monster tarantula hanging onto me. Nope. I wanted that goddamn tarantula or that breast-eating cancer monstor dead … NOW.
I had to fight being swallowed up by that damn gator again and again. And writing about it gave me shivers up my spine, cringing at images of breast cancer over and over. That purged my soul. I became a woman at war. I needed Godzilla to eat that damn gator’s head off — rip it to bloody shreds. I’d win this cancer fight yet! Rougarou go to Hell!
MY damn gator’s just an imaginary monster to help ME visualize so I could cope with an awful disease. Then I saw a Pinterest photo of a gal refuting her cancer had belonged to her, claiming she will will it gone. All I gotta say is, I feel for her because she’ll have real trouble healing till she admits to the ugly truth that it did in fact belong to her. It will take not being scared to expose the core of her most vicious self to her worst enemy, digging in her claws and screaming with more kickass fury she’s ever felt inside. Then she can begin to rid herself of the inner turmoil, the terror, the agony of breast cancer that throws slimy shiitt in her face. That demon called breast cancer don’t fight fair, it’s downright evil, like Satan itself. Monstrous. I pray that woman does fight hers off. I shook my head in sympathy as I read her post, truly hoping her weapons are strong enough, her’s gotta be stout as hell. Just how-the-hell can you will that disgusting mass of vile yuckiness gone??
As you can see, describing THIS stuff, user-friendly syntax is utterly impossible. I could not turn off my anxieties. I felt like I was describing my own death. All the grammar context may seem like triviality to someone else, the proverbial ‘mountain out of a molehill’. Rational, no, But real to me. On Facebook, I was asked what does it feel like surviving cancer? How intense the fight is showed up in my dreams. I attempted to convey some of my subconsciousness that helped me cope. Disease turned my life messy.
[The word rougarou comes from the word “loup-garou” with “loup” being French for wold and “garou” coming from the old Frankish form “wari-wulf.” Bela Lugosi step aside… the night lurking, bayou-wandering creature called the rougarou. Native American folklore has it the creature, to Native American wendigos… is mostly related to cannibalism.]
Bein’s my great-great-grandmother was Ioway prairie Indian, old folktale versions of monsters hit a little closer t’home, downright creepy. Now I love gory horror stories but cannibalism is too gross a monster to let in my head.
Easy to say, but my fears were valid and it sounds childish here, since we all resort to near childlike faith to face down them monsters. Gator or Satan or Wendigo throws its worst to get inside us, to knock us off kilter — hit our weaknesses and devour our souls — I was barely out of Wendigo’s grasp. I had to beat that monster! I vowed not to repeat that One Blessed Night. I was raised to rely on myself, but with the severity of breast cancer, I chose prayer to dispel my fears. Maybe that was being too compartmentalized, but hokey or not, every day I whisper solely for Jesus’s ear.Every brain cell in me believes Jesus helps me out of the muckiest shit. That He walks with me, colorful language ‘n all. He gave me some patience (one trait I believe my mother indiscriminately forgot to tuck in my genes) to better endure this tedious, long road I was headed on. …was no yellow brick road. So I guessed it’s HIS job to kill that damn Rougarou. Mwahahahaha!!!
In my research I tried to be objective. I’ve read publications that are so much hogwash. There are some breast cancer websites as well that tout cure-alls due to via lifestyle, food, yoga or any means other than a surgeon’s scalpel. So many people will believe anything published about the supposed cures for cancer in their desperate grasping at straws. But by that time, to me the cause doesn’t matter; the cells are dead. Somehow a tumor was created, they spread. The fallacies spread as well! It’s astounding. Miracles do happen but some researchers simply feed off people’s’ hopeful gullibility. It’s just wrong. Evidently there’s a lot of pockets being lined. Don’t misconstrue my intent, I cite several reputable European medical journals as references.
Underneath all that terror, I relied on my faith because I knew I could not do this alone — I knew I did not have to. God gave me the common sense to get a grip. He gave me focus. It wasn’t the first time in my life He helped me.
Exploring life is being able to walk into shadows with no fear… faith in Him, your feet will follow.