Friday, July 2, 2010

How hard does it have to be? ... the hidden costs of breast cancer ......

Sometimes it seems as if it will never end. You think it is all over and bang you get hit again by another aftershock from the earthquake that hit your life in the form of breast cancer.

How do you count the costs? think you have your life in order and breast cancer rears its ugly head. You have a great job – stressful but it’s yours and you earned it. You work hard and for the first time in years feel as if you are contributing and getting on top of things. The extra family income helps you add another dimension to the family planning for the future. Your husband is in a good job well respected and working hard. The children are doing well and you count your blessings that they have managed so far into adolescence and not gone off the rails.

Work would be fine you have issues you deal with but that is your job you learn and grow and make decisions and move on. In the middle of dealing with the issues you are landed with the diagnosis. So many things get left unfinished. There’s no tidy endings, no farewells, too many things unsaid.

How do you measure the cost of lost confidence? wonderful husband hangs in there. His life turned upside down. Confidence that he knew where he was going, what he could do, that he had control and could make decisions. How do you measure that when it gets shattered? How does he keep on going at work, keep focussed, keep up the priorities?

How do you protect yourself from those who would take advantage of your loss of confidence? How do you cope with your dismay that there are people who would take advantage of this situation?

There is no such thing as your “wife has breast cancer leave”. Maybe for the first even the second lot of surgery, by the fourth he’s changed jobs, by the seventh he’s not working, by the eighth he’s on a job interview interstate, and then by the ninth he’s working overseas. You have to do what you have to do to keep it all afloat.

How do you deal with a diagnosis that is beyond your control and sideswipes you from out of nowhere?

.....there’s an old saying the wonderful man in my life tells me:

How do you eat and elephant? A mouthful at a time.

.....and that’s what we did, one decision at a time and one day at a time. You sometimes get the decisions right and sometimes don’t.

Trying to move forward when we feel as if we are stuck in quicksand.

How do you measure the cost of having to move?

.....not something that is easy at the best of time but when you are in the middle of treatment what choices do you have. Distance and multiple surgeries and procedures are not the best of friends.

How do you measure the impact on a teenager?

.....moving, changing schools, a crucial period of his life, after working so hard to get where he was. How do you measure that? How do you measure his loss of confidence? His lack of trust and disappointment. How do you measure his lost opportunities and pathways for the future? How do you measure the loss of trust? The resentment, anger and the sadness.

How do you measure the cost?

.....having the surgery and treatment seems to be the easy part. It’s over and I can show off my perky new breasts.

.....still the reverberations come. Sometimes out of the haze when I least expect it.

How do you do it?

..... I wouldn’t know where to start to measure the cost. It is just too great and it still keeps coming. I do the best I can.

It would be easier if I was the sort of person that wore their emotions out there and became a falling heap on the ground but I just keep on soldiering on. Falling heaps are good at getting a lot of attention but they often don’t get the job done.

How do I measure the cost?

.....of my sadness at the impact of this on the ones I love all around me. That they have changed and our family has changed is something that I cannot control. Everyone reacts differently according to their own experience and sensibility. The relationships that have been battered and bruised and are still in shock and pain from all that has happened, how do you measure that? How do you try and put it all back together when you know that some of the pieces have changed forever and cannot go back no matter how hard you try to make them fit?

If only there was something that would stop the aftershocks coming. A quick easy fix that soothed the frustrated and broken hearted from the trauma. Some direction that would tell me how to reach out to my family who are suffering still and tell them it’s ok.

Of course we're grateful. I'm here and we have a future. It is just one piece of the ceramic that needs to fit back together.

Very slowly our grief and anger ebbs and flows sometimes it has subsided and sometimes it still can be a crashing tsunami affecting us all so differently.

Tomorrow will come, it’s just one day at a time...

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