A mastectomy is done in stages. In the first stage, the breast tissue is removed and an inflator is inserted. The inflator is filled weekly with air until the desired size is achieved and then a second surgery is planned where the inflator is replaced with an implant. This letter shares some of my feelings after completing the first surgery and waiting for the second.

The Dark Side of Things

August 13, 2011

Subject: the dark side of things

Hey Richard [my drum teacher],

I know you can’t “fix” any of this, but I am writing you to help collect my thoughts.

This second cancer has put my life on hold in many ways. It is very frustrating and very sad. Physically I am rebuilding myself, but in two months, I will have to have another surgery and will have to rebuild myself again. It’s so frustrating to be rebuilding my body knowing that all my work will be undone again in a few months. I choose to make myself strong again in spite of this because I know I will get through the second surgery better and rebound quicker if I go into it with my body strong again.

Mentally I am feeling well enough to socialize and go out a bit, but I am held back because it is awkward for me to go out without a bra. Also I am not really ready for big crowds, and a lot of the things I like to do are physical—yoga, dancing—and I’m not quite strong enough to do those things.

I have struggled all of my adult life with isolation and lack of satisfying interpersonal relationships. At times, that was my doing, due to my fear of letting people in, and then I had to learn how to have healthy relationships. It seems just as I became healthy enough—mentally and physically—to partake in this world, cancer has slammed down a road block—twice—which shut everything down and put me into forced isolation again.

I know there are many people who care about me, but people have very busy lives. And I have so much free time right now. Well, actually, I have nothing but free time. My new job begins September 12. I will only be working at the therapeutic preschool twice a week. I planned to get a second job out of the mental health field, totally for fun. I was hoping to get a job in a crystal shop, but really it will be hard to begin a second job until after the second surgery, which will probably be at the beginning of November. A mastectomy is really a 5–6 month ordeal. It sucks.

Also, I have been feeling more ready for an intimate relationship, and now that pursuit also has to be put on hold. It is so frustrating. I don’t feel comfortable with my body. I fear that I will never feel sexual or desire sex again. Right now the breast that had the surgery is grotesque and it doesn’t move. After the second surgery, when they take out the inflator and put in the implant, then the breast will still have no feeling but it will look more natural.

Anyway, I am a little depressed this evening. Angry. Frustrated. Sad. But also trying to keep an open mind as to what I might be able to do with my time that will have me interacting with people.

So, I guess this is enough darkness for one e-mail.

It was nice to hear about the activity in your life. I respect that you follow your passions and I am glad things seem to be lining up for you.



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