Unless you've experienced it, you might not realize breast cancer is more than a physical fight. Its sheer nature attacks your emotions. Your sense of self shrinks away as it pushes you out of your comfort zone, forced to endure scrutiny and the hands of strangers.
Yes, they're doctors doing their jobs and I want them to be better at it than anyone working a job anywhere. Having new doctors, these people I've never met before, comes with the territory. I accept it's a necessary part of the equation that makes up my new reality.
Cancer + Many New Doctors = Survival
So, Breast Surgeons, Plastic Surgeons, Oncologists, come on in. Welcome to my life. I don't know you, but here, feel me up and while you're doing that, tell me something personal about you because aside from the stellar credentials I read off your internet profile, I don't know a damn thing. Are you married? Kids? Cat person or dog person? From my vantage point, this probably shouldn't be the info that matters, but it does. I need this relationship to be a little less impersonal.
What do you know about me? You know my mother and aunt died from this disease and that my biopsy didn't turn out as I had hoped. Do you know I have two little boys? Do you know my husband and I went to Russia five times to adopt them? Do you even want to know who I am outside this room?
Does any of this matter in the cancer long run? You bet it does. To get better I have to strip bare, mentally and physically, time and time again. I have to let go of inhibitions, modesty and the very body part that defines the line between childhood and adulthood, and to some women, the essence of motherhood.
For me to accept that, I at least need my male doctors to know something other than my family history. I need them to understand this doesn't come easy, on so many levels other than the disease itself.
Cancer's world is filled with strangers, surgeries, high-tech scans, drugs and blood tests. It's an endless stream of follow-up visits back to those very cold rooms. From the outside looking in, it all seems very impersonal...but it's not. Just the opposite. It's personal. So very, very personal.