Hey blog! I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you. I haven’t felt too inspired to write lately. Most of my brain power has been focused on writing cover letters and going on interviews, which is actually quite mentally taxing, although necessary. But writing and talking about job stuff is kind of boring after awhile. I mean, as much as I love writing/talking about what a stellar employee and brilliant human being I am, it can be a bit draining. Sometimes I wish the whole “having cancer” thing could just give me a free pass, and serve as a kind of certificate of excellence – proof that I can “deal with stressful situations” and “overcome challenges.” I mean, any kind of workplace high pressure situation really now pales in comparison to the kind of stress and types of decisions I’ve had to make. Alas, cancer doesn’t get you a free pass, and I’m just the same as all you other cancer-free unemployed suckers out there. C’est la vie.
Other than spending my days in pursuit of the next job, there really isn’t too much else to report. It’s been over a month since my last cancer-related appointment, which I think is the longest I’ve gone since 2012. And I must say, I really am enjoying the break. It’s nice to see things on my calendar like “movie night” or “girls’ brunch” instead of “MRI” or “blood draw.” More and more, I am distancing myself from the cancer community and feeling like it was all some sort of drawn-out, psychotic dream. The potential for a normal existence, at least for the immediate future, really feels like a reality now. I wish I could just completely ignore and forget about it all, but the hot flashes and chest tightness and various other bodily defects stop me from doing so. I am living every day with all of the effects of trying REALLY hard to prevent my cancer from spreading, and although I have zero regrets about any of the choices I have made, it’s still a challenge to live with the many consequences of my so-called “battle.”
There’s an art exhibit in Toronto right now called the SCAR Project. You might have heard of it — photographs of young women with breast cancer, with their chests exposed, scars and all. I’ve seen a lot of press about the exhibit, especially since I’m wrapped up in this “young breast cancer community” so it’s impossible not to be aware of these types of things. The gallery is actually very close to where I live, so I thought of popping by one day while it’s here. It seems like something I should “support” since these are “my people.” Yet there’s also something keeping me away from it. I believe in the importance of these images, especially as contrast to all the “pinkifying” of breast cancer, where all we see is images of women who look healthy, and happy, and whole. Breast cancer, in my humble opinion, is extremely ugly and horrific, and I think we do the “cause” a great injustice when we try to cover that up.
However, right now, I’m kind of in a place where I’m trying to move past the harsh realities of breast cancer. I don’t know if I really need to stare at a bunch of images that remind me of what’s happened to me. I don’t need the reminder or the education — I get it every single time I look in the mirror and see gigantic scars. I am my own “real image” of a young woman with breast cancer. All I have to do is lift my shirt, and there I have it, my very own art exhibit. And for right now, I think that’s enough for me. I commend the women who posed for these photos and truly think they’re brave for doing so. But I think I’ll likely avoid checking out the images in person, at least for the time being. I don’t want to compare my scars to their scars or my reconstruction to theirs. I don’t want to feel any more anger or sadness than I already do about breast cancer and what it has done to me, and continues to do to way too many young women. I guess, in a sense, I’m taking shelter with the exact group that the SCAR Project is trying to oppose – the group that wants to ignore the ugliness of breast cancer and look away and pretend it doesn’t exist.
I guess for now, that’s just where I’m at. I want to pretend it doesn’t exist. I want to live in ignorance, just for a single second. I have spent so much time in the ugly, scary, dark world of breast cancer. I don’t wish to immerse myself in it anymore right now. I want a pretty, fuzzy, pink, happy image. I know it’s not real. I can’t un-know it. I know what lies beneath it all. But sometimes, we all need to allow ourselves to “make-believe” and pretend and imagine that everything is just fine and dandy and perfect and everything will be okay. And who knows. Maybe it will be.
6 thoughts on “Beyond the scars”
I just stumbled on your blog, enjoyed what I have read so far and look forward to getting caught up. You are a brave young lady with a wonderful outlook. Do not feel guilty for giving yourself permission to put things besides cancer at the center of your focus. It is very stressful and distraction is healing.
Steph, as usual, a wonderful post, thank you. You hit the nail on the head. I feel guilt sometimes that I haven’t taken part in race for life, and all the other sports activities to support BC. I can’t do it. I have no energy, still, I hate sports, and I don’t want to think about BC any more, been there, done that, had enough. Thanks for reminding me I’m not a bad person for this, I am normal. And pinky happiness is ok xxx
I don’t think of your skipping the art exhibit as you trying to ignore breast cancer; I think you’re taking a well deserved break from a horrific disease that has affected you to the core. You can honor (or “bear witness” as my people like to say) those who have survived or succumbed to the disease in any way that works for you.
I like the new notations on your calendar!
I think Audry was right! Think pink, laugh, love, kiss and laugh again…That is living! You don’t owe anything to anyone – your blog is the most honest and courageous expression of your reality I have ever read and seeing an exhibit would be superfluous for you my dear warrior princess! Put your energies where they belong – on happy thoughts! XXOO
Awesome post, Steph! I’m completely with you on the whole job search thing. I’ve been at it myself for a couple of months now and it’s rough. But just keep at it and I’m sure something will come your way. Sometimes I also wish having cancer and having to deal with all the challenges it brings proved that I can handle any job. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple…sigh.
All the best with your job search! Is there a particular type of job you’re looking for? I’ll keep my eyes peeled for you and let you know if I come across anything.