Reality

The Facebook Posts – Mel’s Cancer Diaries.

My journey is much harder on my psyche than I expected. The process of filling the tissue expanders was much more painful than my doc explained. If you have gone through breast cancer you may have noticed that the medical community doesn’t focus much on the healing process. Maybe it is just my experience, but I feel that they don’t warn you of what something is going to feel like. Not just physically, but emotionally too.

Take the experience of tissue expanders as an example. Yes, I had an appointment in a medical office that explained the mechanics of what would happen, but they skipped over a lot of parts that make up an experience as a whole. The first time I had a “fill” I came home and went to bed. I couldn’t get a muscle relaxer and pain killer in me soon enough! Strangely, the pain was a pulling feeling in my shoulders down into my back. I didn’t go into work that day as my body was too achy. I had no idea I’d feel this way. No one told me.

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Help

The Facebook Posts – Mel’s Cancer Diaries

I struggled with what people might think of me going public with my breast cancer experience. Yet, I keep writing because that is how I process and it is a significant part of my mental healing. What I’ve found through my public journal is that people are responding to it in ways I never expected.

In the world of social media we measure a persons fondness towards us through likes and comments. Frankly, the likes and comments on a post are not what matter most. It is when a friend calls me personally to tell me he reads my diaries. Or, when I run into someone at the grocery store who makes a point to compliment my openness and encourages me to keep revealing more.

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Amnesia

The Facebook Posts – Mel’s Cancer Diaries

During my recovery in January of 2016 I kept a small basket with books, journals, candy and other various sundries that I might need next to my bed. It was overflowing so I decided to rummage through the pile to see what could be tossed out. I came across a small white box. Inside was a key chain of an Airstream trailer. Immediately, I knew it belonged to my Grandfather. I had this faint memory of finding it one day in my Mother’s house several months before. I remembered thinking that I really liked that key chain because it reminded me of my grandparents home growing up.
My grandfather owned a business and the minute he made his first million dollars he sold the company and the house, packed up my grandmother and bought the biggest Airstream trailer and brand new Chevy Sububan he could find. He and my grandmother traveled in that trailer for over thirty years. In the summers they would come back to Michigan from the Southwest, or Florida, or Alaska, or where every they had wandered. The Airstream would be parked for a couple of weeks in our driveway in the middle of suburbia. I thought everyone’s grand parents lived like this.
I loved that big, silver bullet of a trailer. I would walk around to the door and knock on the clover-shaped grate that protected the screen. Once inside my two elderly grandparents would be watching Gun Smoke and playing “marbles” – a board game similar to Chinese Checkers. I would gaze around at their minimal decor fascinated by the red candy jar filled with “old people” mints. You know the soft white peppermint candy that feels and tastes like a piece of chalk? Red was a theme in the trailer. They also had polished petrified wood with a deep red gleam tucked into a small corner as decoration. The seductive color of those fossils stick in my memory.
Back to the key chain. When I saw it in my pile of things next to my bed I immediately called my mother to tell her what I found. I didn’t know where it came from or how it turned up in my room, 250 miles away from her home where I first discovered it.

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Nightmares

The Facebook Posts – Mel’s Cancer Diaries

This is a very difficult entry for me to write. But, I have to write because writing is therapy for me.

Since the mastectomy (about two weeks ago) I’ve had terrible dreams. No, not dreams. Nightmares. I dream that something is being destroyed. It could be a towering inferno to a burnt pot-roast. Sometimes it is Thanksgiving dinner that catches on fire, ruining the beautiful turkey. Fire and skin are the running themes that posses my REM sleep cycle. The destruction is different each night, but they all add up to irreversible damage.

The night before last was so bad that I can’t believe my brain let me imagine such things. I needed to talk about it so I made myself tell my oldest daughter. It was difficult to describe because the destructive action in the dream was ME doing the harm. And, at the same time, it was me trying to repair the harmed. The dream was about a beloved pet dog. I was trying to put her skin back to together after realizing that I had somehow burned her. It was unclear how I damaged her skin, yet I had the understanding that it was me who did the damage. The part I remember clearly was trying to put her back together as if nothing had happened. It was my fault she was “broken” and my responsibility to “fix” her.

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