Lately, I've been thinking about the choices cancer forces upon us. Questions I would never consider had cancer not parked on my doorstep. It's hard to remember how to just be, how to just enjoy a day without life's great existential questions buzzing in my ear every minute. It's hard enough seeing the physical reminder of my choices in the mirror and now, before I even get used to things as they are, I'm forced to confront another choice. One, a normal woman of a certain age would never question.
Ovaries? Stay or go?
In all honesty, I've already made this decision armed with advice from my gynecologist and oncologist. I knew this was coming. I've been considering it for quite a while, perhaps too long, my uneasy brain thinks, but despite knowing and accepting the reasons, I'm having a hard time dealing.
Tomorrow I meet my choice head on, but today...I'm moping. I'll even dare to say, sad. I'm not seeing the positives that come along with this choice, though I know they exist. I only see what I'm losing...again. Thanks, cancer.
I get to say goodbye now to so many things:
A young me, the way I've been since I was 12 years old.
A fertile me, not that it matters in terms of new babies. That's not happening, but still not how I'd choose to lose it.
Goodbye to periods, perhaps that isn't such a bad thing either, but still not the way I want it to play out.
One big hello to instant menopause. Just seeing the word makes me feel old....Instantly old.
It's not one thing that's making me sad, it's all of those things. It's nearly two years of having to make decisions I shouldn't have to make. None of us should have to choose to remove our ovaries, our breasts and then walk around everyday as if we haven't been changed, as if life continues on as before when we know damn well it doesn't. Cancer doesn't let that happen. That is not the gift it gives us, no matter how well things turn out. It robs us of our right to let life play out naturally, to grow old naturally.
I'm not happy about tomorrow. I don't want to retell my story to the staff. I don't want to remind some nurse or anesthesiolgist yet again, left arm only even though they'll never find a vein there. I'm tired of the whole thing, this whole cancer thing.
I also, keep thinking I'll be different afterward, changed somehow, no longer my usual cheery self, but a new cranky, sweaty self. The day looms before me as a dividing line in my life... Young me changed by the flash of a knife into old me, never to be the same. Only once before has anything created such a clear division in how I see my life. It was the moment my mother died. My life changed then from being a person with a mother to one without. So clear. There was no going back no matter how much I wanted to, there was only forward.
Giving up my ovaries is like that, there's no going back. So, I'm sad, but I'll go and get through it. I'll remember to be thankful that although it's a crappy choice, it was still mine to make and not forced upon me by some horrendous turn of this disease.
Among my goodbyes I'll remember to wish my elevated estrogen level and its friends, high risk of breast cancer recurrence and ovarian cancer risk, a fond farewell. And hope for the best, because really, what other choice is there?
See you on the other side of menopause.