After the Oncologist, my big sister arrives for a bit over a week. Her and her Husband fly in from interstate. This trip was planned before the diagnosis; we don’t get to see each other often so I did not wish to change it.
My big sister has many health problems of her own, she has been to hell and back and this continues on a daily basis. She is resilient and takes each day as it comes. Her husband is an amazing support and they have the most wonderful relationship. They have been married and divorced before and finally found each other. It is so lovely to see how they do married life together.
It is hard for all of my sisters having me diagnosed with breast cancer I don’t think anyone expected the youngest sister to be diagnosed. It brings up all of the questions around genetics and family history. It makes each of them think, “will it happen to me, when will my body defy me?” We don’t have great genes honestly. Cancer, heart disease, weird blood disorders. But in our favour we are strong and resilient.
We spend lots of time sitting about talking and reminiscing. My sister closest in age to me stays for the week to see her big sister too, and to help out me after surgery. So we laugh, we cry, we talk, we disagree, it is a big week.
It has been an interesting journey for my big sister as her illness is obvious as she is on oxygen 24 hours per day. She also needs to use a walker or wheel chair to be mobile as she is so weak and is so much pain. She cannot avoid but explain what is going on with her health.
However, for the moment I have blessed anonymity, which I am treasuring. Soon enough I will be ‘bald, barren and boobless’ and obviously look like something is not right so I will have ‘the looks’, the inevitable questions. So for now I am not keen to even bring up my health with people outside the inner circle.
As we catch up with some distant family members over the week, my sister talks about her health and is quite puzzled when I don’t bring mine up. Again it’s me making the most of this window of opportunity when my health does not need to be the foremost topic of conversation.
Particularly when you don’t know how different people respond. Some are supportive and encouraging (excellent!), while others can be fear mongering, can blame you and then of course there’s those who open with “oh yeah I knew someone who died from that last month.” That’s always a helpful conversation. No I don’t have enough of my own fear and doubts that I wrestle with every moment, please give me more! Once I explain to my big sister why I don’t wish to tell people she understands, again different people different journey.
It’s a full week, my second oldest sister visits from the Hunter Valley, which is lovely. I haven’t seen her since the mastectomy. She is my sister who has also had Breast cancer, so I feel like she understands so much more. She’s been there, she knows the “what if’s” the mind games we play, the pain, the body image issues, the grieving for normality, the realisation of ones own mortality.
So it has been a big week, I am slowly recovering, the pain is lessening, I still cannot wear a bra with my soft form prosthesis for long. It’s just too painful. If we go out in public and I feel the need to wear a bra, I almost rip my bra off when I get home. Oh the sweet relief when I do that.
It makes me angry that I feel the need to conform and wear my prosthesis in public. But then again without it I get the looks and questions. I don’t want to have to deal with that, I am still coming to terms with what this means for me. I am sure it will all become easier in time.