2012, Don’t Let the Door Hit Ya!

First of all, 2012 sucked!  Before July 19 all I bitched about were office politics and cat hurl.  Things have changed a tad.  And while I can certainly detail the changes, there is one profound change worth talking about.  Particularly in the wake of one unbelievable meltdown.

Every single time I receive a comment; nay, every time I write an essay, I think of Betty Ford.  When she went public in 1973 and told the world that she had breast cancer she blazed the trail of trails.  What the hell did women do without any outlet?  Talk about being left out to dry: radical mastectomies, no support networks, taboo subject matter that wasn’t even talked about in families.  Can you imagine the old school patriarchal medicine forced on these women?  Just thinking about it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

I had an aunt who was in her 70s–the family matriarch.  When she died as a result of breast cancer, no one really talked about the disease.  Instead people focused on her bravery, her many years, her kids, etc.  So forgettable was the cause of her death that I never recalled it.  Every time I was asked if anyone in my family had breast cancer I always answered no.  I was the first, apparently.  But I wasn’t.  Aunt Harriet was the first of which I know.  And I’ve learned since of aunt who have had cancer of the breast or other organs.  All on my father’s side of the family.  (Thanks for the crummy genes, dad.)

Granted, I’m not happy walking around with stage iv cancer, but I have an added advantage over so many women before me: I have a support network the likes of which they could never have imagined.  I am grateful for it all of the time.  Every time I read a comment or a tweet I know how lucky I am.  But it was not until my meltdown that I saw plainly the embarrassment of riches that I have in this  community of women with breast cancer and the people who support them.

Capture

First, social media came to the rescue and peeps helped to talk me off the ledge; they grabbed my consciousness and pulled me away from the chaos.  For that hour I felt like I was losing my mind, but my peeps and tweeps held on to me and kept me from falling.  How lucky am I that people on both coasts of the United States and Liverpool, England had my virtual back?  Virtual my ass, that shit was real.  (My psychiatrist might feel a little abandoned.  Sorry, doc.)

Second, the catharsis of chronicling the experience in writing provided another level of solace.  That has been the entire reason for the blog.  If I were not able to discuss milestones, feelings, questions, and explore the hilarity of cancer (because only we know how it can actually be hilarious at times) I would be lost.  And what you put out comes back, because for every blog post I read every day I get something from it.  And by virtue of being told, I know that this blog is helping people.  And that ability to help as you hurt is both sincerely humbling and powerfully healing.

Third, the words of support that I received after my meltdown were like an international tsunami of support, empathy, and healing the likes of which I have never experienced before.  I can truly say that as I recovered physically from the emotional thrashing I received, each and every comment of support lifted me higher and higher.  I could feel it.  You understood, you had been there, you had witnessed, you walked through that fire and came out the other side and so too would I.  And I did.

I suppose that meltdown had been brewing for some time.  Hell, for the last four weeks I have been weepy–and annoyed.  I have been in so much pain that sometimes the smallest hurdle had my lower lip in a quiver.  But Thursday’s encounter was too much to bear.  Hell, I’m better prepared when I go to administrative offices and talk university records management.  But the important thing is not the lack of support that I received from that one oncologist on that one day, but the support that I have received from my friends and extended breast cancer family on the days that followed.

2012 still unequivocally sucks beyond any standard of universal measurement.  But when it comes to the support I receive from my friends I am as rich as Croesus.  Richer,  even.  Croesus didn’t have social media.

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32 Responses to 2012, Don’t Let the Door Hit Ya!

  1. Your sense of humor must sustain you. That and your honesty, which touches us all. My best to you always!

  2. Hi Scorchy,
    I’ve nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Don’t feel pressure to accept (I know the rules for these things can be a p.i.t.a.), but if you would like to, you will find the rules here: http://cancerinmythirties.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/a-long-overdue-thank-you/
    Whether you decide to accept or not, I just wanted to let you know that I think you and your blog are terrific!
    Wishing you good things in the New Year…

    • Scorchy says:

      You are so darned sweet! Thanks very much–I have to send along along my nominations as well. Add that to my To Do list! I wish you the very best, too! Win that POWERBALL! Woot!

  3. dear scorchy,

    good to feel the love, huh. this post affirms that when we feel so alone, perched on the precipice of the end of the world as we know it, there are thousands of readers at the ready to shower you with such incredible support. your inimitable style and drive to write through all of the challenges you are facing with such openness, candor, and flashes of feisty refusal to allow the staus quo to be acceptable inspires us all. slaying the dragons of ST IV BC is exhausting. that’s why so many of us check your blog every day (sometimes twice or 3 times!) – because your words recharge our batteries and show us that though we may ofen feel alone, we are not. your blog has been one of the BEST “pain management” therapies for me when my mind has been scrambled, my body has betrayed me, and my heart has not felt up to staying in the game.

    and guess what? i will lay odds on the fact that there is an oncologist just waiting to take you on as their patient. one who is disheartened on a daily basis, disappointed with other patients’ passivity, unpreparedness, and reluctance to be their own best advocate. a good onc recognizes the win/win of a thriving patient/doctor partnership; they want and NEED someone exactly like YOU, scorchy, to fulfill their mission to be the excellent doc they are destined to be. i will be BELIEVING that soon you will find each other. oooo, i wish i could cue the words of a good song for that…goddamned chemo brain…

    love, XOXO,

    karen, TC

  4. Karla says:

    Scorchy,
    I echo Susan’s post. Thank you for articulating all of the things we feel and thank you for making me smile today.

  5. bcrcrider says:

    Amen, darlin’ – all of it!

  6. You go girl. Your blogs are giving insight to many and will help so many women dealing with mets. Hopefully not me, but thank you for your feelings and wisdom. I hope you find an oncologist worth the title. Your picture of you at your knitting group a bit back reminded me of me. Keep writing and sharing.

  7. Yes, Scorchy…. it’s as real as it gets…. And my life is EXPONENTIALLY better because you are a part of it…. Every single person I’ve met through social media is someone with whom I now share my life. The hurt and the happy, the joy and the pain…. and everything in between.

    I’m so glad we connected and I’m certain we will soon do the real life meeting, too.

    xoxox
    AnneMarie

  8. I’m so glad you could feel the love because it’s there for you my dear. Still, I hate how poorly you were treated and how that was a contributing factor in your meltdown. As far as being so “bloody open” in your writing, well, I know what you mean. Sometimes I wonder if one can share too much. But then it’s all about the sharing and if you can’t be candid and honest on your own blog, what’s the point, right? And as for social media and this wonderful online support system, well, I just can’t say enough good things about it either. Thanks for being part of it and thanks for writing and tellin’ things your way. My best for 2013.

  9. dglassme says:

    Great grandmother died @ 92 she had breast cancer, Grandma died @ 82 she also had breast cancer, mom passed @ 72 in August of breast cancer. Hope this ten year increment doesn’t continue or worse yet jump to a twenty year increment. When do you think I found all this out, after being asked if BC ran in my family for BRCA questionnaire for my own diagnoses in July. I wish my mother would have had a virtual outlet…instead she had the naive family members who could only relate with their sympathy. I admire Scorchy’s forthrightness, not capable of ever writing as eloquently as she but, as well not able to articulate this level of detail in my own blog in fear those who I love wouldn’t be equipped to understand, especially if they heard I had a meltdown. D

    • Scorchy says:

      I don’t know what prompts me to be so bloody open when I write. I guess I figure what have I go to lose? And my family? I don’t think my blog is ready by anyone but my sister, and she doesn’t stay on top of it (which is fine). Besides, eff ’em–I have to express it all. And if that helps those who can’t for whatever reason, I’m gonna keep on tellin’! 🙂

      • dglassme says:

        Please do “keep on tellin’!”

      • keithw says:

        I’m a “caregiver” for the lady I love. Reading your posts helps me to understand, helps me to be there for her better I hope. I read that post about the subhuman who said his wife wasn’t a “real” woman without her breasts – instead of his balls, someone should have cut his f’ing throat. I would give anything if my love’s cancer was so localized that a mastectomy could kill it; it isn’t. We have good days and bad days as we both come to grips with this stage four thing. Your openness and honesty is a huge help Scorchy. Thank you so much.

      • Acacia says:

        Luckily my aunt got to out live him by ten years with her three incredible daughters. He was always an ass. When my brother was three my uncle stole his penny collection.

      • Scorchy says:

        Aw man! Every family has a relative like this! Every one!!

  10. Acacia says:

    My aunt was killed by breast cancer too. It wasn’t really a secret, but we never really talked about it and I wasn’t allowed to visit her (I was around 8 when she died.) I did know that her husband constantly told her that she wasn’t really a woman any more since she didn’t have her breasts.

    You’re right Scorchy, we are truly fortunate to be able to form these amazing networks of support. Just to be able to share our experiences with people who understand is an amazing gift. I once tried to form a local support group of women with MBC off of Breastcancer.org and got zero response. Apparently there is no one else in central Illinois has Stage IV breast cancer or mets. Finding you and all the other amazing people on twitter and facebook has been a godsend. (And that’s coming from an atheist!)

    Happy 2013!

  11. Juneaubugg (aka Jennifer) says:

    As an aside: have you ever seen this site?

    http://theknittingexperience.com/knitted_knockers_program/

  12. Juneaubugg (aka Jennifer) says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Where would we be. I too had that Aunt. Aunt Diane. Her portrait hung in our dining room forever! I just learned in June that she passed away due to breast cancer. What?!?! WHAT THE FUCK! Why did someone not tell me? Why did they not tell me that Ashkanazie Jews were also in a higher risk group. Perhaps I would have been more prepared for the mere POSSIBILITY of a bad outcome to my biopsy. Instead I found myself totally blindsided by my diagnosis.

    Well, at least my sister and niece now know we have a history! And while I have to check off the CANCER box in my medical history, I suppose my diagnosis means they have to answer yes to that horrid question too now in the family history section.

    Yes… So grateful to not have been butchered and silenced as my aunt was. Today we can say, and mean… I AM WOMAN hear me ROAR! Keep ROARING Scorch!

  13. Croesus? Who? Great, now I have to go Google and learn something. Thanks for the handing out the first research assignment of 2013.

  14. The Accidental Amazon says:

    I don’t understand how those bits and bytes work, but I’m glad they do. Sending you massive cyberlove, that is no less real for traveling through the ether. We got each other’s backs, sistah. xoxo, Kathi

  15. Susan Zager says:

    Scorchy, you truly are such an incredible person. To be where you are and have so much appreciation for the support around you, which is so real, makes me feel so appreciated. Reading your post I feel humbled that I can be a part of this incredible social circle that does not tolerate when you are treated so terribly.
    While I am on a road to do everything in my power to see that breast cancer, (particularly metastatic breast cancer) is a disease that no longer has the right to take away so many incredible lives, as well as all of the side effects on the way that rob you of so much, you have managed to empower me to think that I could be of some help. I have learned so much about accepting the right help with this disease as well as knowing that true friends can do and will do what they can.
    You also have a great point about how lucky we are to have social media compared to the days of you Aunt. Your ability to laugh, cry, scream retreat, and most important know 10 great things to do with a bottle of tamoxifen continues to have me hooked on reading each and every post you write. Hugs Scorchy and thank you for managing to make me feel good today. Happy 2013! XoXoXo – Susan

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