My voice is a woman’s superlative opinion. Because I’m not a doctor or psychotherapist, my interpretation of my dreams and psychological problems surviving breast cancer could well be disputed. It’s personally subjective, not clinical. Still a whole lotta mumbo-jumbo to me (told ya). My ‘psycho’ in relation to sexuality, nightmares, depression and some poetry. It took me a full three years of surgeries to concede I recovered from the psychological distress of breast cancer to call myself permanently cured. It was trial and error weight on my mind.
Google’s dictionary says: Recovery is: 1. return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. 2. action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
Dr. Robine hit-the-nail-on-the-head about my attitude after a breast cancer diagnosis. Her non-typical manner always no-nonsense, but sympathetic. Her insight seemed more life educated too, when she said, “don’t let cancer define you as being just a survivor, but consider your cancer (your illness) or any life changing event to be only a marker in your life to benefit from. You must move on or be stuck unable to be happy again — your independence has suffered a major setback – you’ll get it back”, then leaned into my face and point-blank, sympathetically assured me, “you aren’t there yet.”
Not there yet. I knew it. But with her tone, her faith in me spurred my self-confidence. I didn’t feel quite so on a psychoville roller-coaster, however my obvious hesitation had spurred anger at my lack of it … I had second-guessed myself and frustrated that my self-image was shot all to hell. That was a new feeling after twenty years of confident rebelliousness. I was scrambling for a little sense of who I had become lately since my mastectomy. I hate labels so her words to look beyond myself as a survivor justified my perturbation at that label. I had settled and I knew it. My battle still raged within. She saw. In the back shelf of my mind I had too — just hadn’t acted on it. Damn.
I know my first-hand experience is only tiny pebbles in a river. Breast cancer survival is more complex than a magazine article or the last doctor visit. Average stats show women around the world fight breast cancer’s stigma for years. Reference to number one, my physical recovery is measured as my breasts scars fade, but number two is vital to get through my recovery as the emotional scars hung on like my occasional nightmare’s illusions, causing a torrential river.
I was/am coping with both descriptions. Recuperation from a mastectomy and six surgeries and recovering after many months of pain pertinent to female physiology and feminine psyche, all rendered me a woman incapable of physical intimacy for quite some time. None. Any wonder I got depressed and pissy? In essence, prolonged recoup time from treatments deeply affecting our propensity to enjoy any sensuality we had. Ouch. Downright pain in my ass.
And with my doctor’s insight, I understood my goal. I hope to enlighten and motivate breast cancer patients to be more than just a survivor — but to thrive — with a little guiding hand, not from me, certainly no expert. I can inform you, only so far as my personal experience. I am not an oncologist, psychiatrist or God; any info is of an opinionated nature. Our recovery needs are different, justified as individuals, dependant on such professionals and my upbringing and ultimately with God as my spiritual guide, that my psycho needs are met. You readers must reconcile your own healing, in your own ways. I am hopeful.