Bras

The Facebook Posts – Mel’s Cancer Diaries

So, my doctor gave me a bra. I went to see her so she could check my tissue expanders and drains. She announced that the bra was a gift. She even accentuated the word, gift as if it would be delivered in a Tiffany-blue box. Naturally, I was a little excited. A new bra is not cheap. I pictured the intimates section at Macy’s and imagined what she might hand to me. Once I saw the thin plastic sheath in which the bra was presented my fantasy of La Perla came crashing to the floor.

Lemme tell you about this bra. It was made of stretchy satin. It was tan, yet erred on the side of brown pantyhose. It had what seemed like a million hooks in the front. It met strict safety requirements as to avoid the drains that stick out of the skin under my arms. Lovely, yes?

She gave me this thing that had no bells or whistles. It made me look like a man wearing a bra for a Halloween costume. No. no. no. no. I do not want to wear it. Like, ever. I don’t even want to ever wear any kind of bra ever again.

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Pink

The Facebook Posts – Mel’s Cancer Diaries

I walked into work this morning and noticed pink ribbons on the front doors of the college’s Administration building. The ribbons were printed on white copy paper and cut out, taped to the glass.

Odd.

Continuing along the hall to my office I saw pink holiday ornaments with pink ribbons tied to office door handles. It was quieter than expected too. No one was settling into their morning with the usual chatter and that seemed especially strange because it was the office holiday party that day. I assumed there would be excitement before our break, yet it was so still.

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Grades

The Facebook Posts – Mel’s Cancer Diaries

I decided to earn my Master’s degree so I can advance in my career and in the fall semester of 2015 I registered for classes. My University decided that my credit for accounting and statistics were too out-of-date to transfer. With a heavy sigh, I registered for basic accounting. I work at a community college so I took the accounting class with one of our professors. Plus, I thought the added benefit of knowing the instructor would help me tackle my most hated classroom subject – mathematics.

I have made a career out of avoiding math. Hell, I could teach a class on how to grow up to be a middle-aged woman with a decent career and never have to deal with numbers. I sweat just thinking about fractions. I’m the person who trusts the cashier is counting my change back to me correctly. I never ask questions.

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Afghans

The Facebook Posts – Mel’s Cancer Diaries

I used to think that once a person is diagnosed with cancer they automatically end up in a hospital bed fighting for their life. I pictured a victim of breast cancer wearing a turban and bandages from the chemo port. Handmade afghans with a zig-zag of mustard yellow colors and photos of family sitting on the bedside table.

I guess that was my 12-year-old brain’s idea of someone with cancer. The reality is that I’m just walking around with cancer as if nothing is wrong. I go to work with cancer. I give presentations with cancer. I go to the grocery store with cancer. I make dinner with cancer. I have conversations about random life experiences with cancer. I feel like I need to tell people what the hell is going on. I talk to the cashier in the check-out lane and consider informing her on my impending ordeal.

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Cancer

The Facebook Posts – Mel’s Cancer Diaries

I was diagnosed with breast cancer yesterday.

The news didn’t come as a complete surprise. I found a lump in my left breast mid-October. I quickly made a doctors appointment thinking it was a cyst. I’ve had cysts in other parts of my body in the past that needed to be removed. I convinced myself that was all it was. The diagnosis came after many mammogram images and a biopsy. The biopsy was painful and they couldn’t feel the lump unless I was sitting up, so I had to hold myself in an awkward position for a while. Interestingly, they had a hard time even seeing it on the ultrasound. Yet, the radiologist was quite sure he was looking at cancer. The results came in and I got the phone call. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.

Cancer.

The word just hangs there like a spider dangling from a web. You find yourself bobbing and weaving to avoid the sticky snare, fear of the spider finding its way to your skin.

The radiologist was very sweet trying to make me feel better as he slowly described his accuracy at identifying cancer. Tears fell from my face. I just started my Master’s classes. Would I need to put that on hold? I thought about how I would tell my kids. I felt like my life was over. He told a story about going to an event with his wife. who also is a breast cancer survivor. The event was at a mall celebrating breast cancer awareness month by saving pink parking spots for survivors. He said the lots were full. I know he was trying to tell me that I will be a survivor too.