Mom to two little ones and mom.me contributor, Meredith C. Carroll will be sharing her experiences of her recent breast cancer diagnosis, imminent treatments and day-to-day living with the big "c" here on Mom's the Word. Please join us in supporting Meredith and wishing for the easiest path through this challenging journey she and her family are facing.
was going to bathe the girls tonight,” I said to my husband when he came home
from work the other night. “But I didn’t. Because I have CANCER.”
raised an eyebrow.
you change the baby’s diaper, by the way?” I asked him. “You know—with
the CANCER, and all.”
figure if I ever needed an excuse to do nothing, cancer is it.
you’d asked me before my breast cancer diagnosis if there were degrees of
tragedy as they apply to cancer, I would have stared at you blankly. Cancer is
cancer, and cancer is calamity. Duh.
have breast cancer, yes, but as far as breast cancer goes, and as far as I know
before actually meeting with an oncologist and breast surgeon, the kind I have
is the best kind to get (yippee). My perspective is sound: It’s going to be a
horrendous, shitty and inconvenient year, but if all of those Web sites, doctors
and experts are to be believed, the year will
end and there will be another one.
Many more of them.
the past year, I’ve watched a few dear friends struggle with and succumb to
cancer and other assorted heartbreaks that no one should have to endure at any
time. That’s why it seems selfish to ask anyone to cry, pray or even cook for
me when most of how I’m feeling (at the moment, pre-surgery) is frightened and sorry
OK, maybe I’ve played the cancer card when the dishes are piled in the sink.
have so much perspective, in fact, that despite the fact that I’m not a
survivor yet, I already have survivor’s guilt simply knowing that I will survive. Of course survival is the
goal. I will do everything I can to be around for as long as possible. To watch
my kids grow up. To grow old with my husband. To keep seeing and doing and
growing and laughing and drinking red wine (lots of it) and eating chocolate
(milk, not dark, and lots of it). It’s why it wouldn’t even occur to me to keep
my breasts even if I’m told by the breast surgeon that they can stay. The less
breast I have, the fewer places the cancer can come back. Getting a
best-of-the-worst diagnosis is the only kind I think I can handle.
the short time since I was told the tissue removed from my breast during at the
biopsy was malignant, I’ve talked to a number of breast cancer warriors, many of
whom have encouraged me not to diminish what I’m going through. That has not convinced
me 100 percent, however, that I need to ask for or receive help; but the few
times I’ve allowed myself to go there, it has been when it comes time to bathe kids.
OK, maybe I’ve played the cancer card when the dishes are piled in the sink. The
reality is that after my surgery I won’t be able to do those things for a while
anyway—you know, because of the CANCER. I may as well practice keeping my hands
keeping up with my daily exercise and my paid work. Twenty-four hours after my
diagnosis I got an emergency email from one editor who asked me to pinch-hit
for a vacationing writer. I was about to respond and claim CANCER, except
before I hit “send,” I realized how disingenuous that would have been. I wasn’t
diagnosed because I felt sick or even a lump. My cancer was found during my
very first routine mammogram. Sure, I was overwhelmed and scared, but that
wasn’t hampering my ability to think and type.
almost as if I feel a responsibility to act accordingly given what I know now
about my diagnosis—it’s not an aggressive cancer, so I can’t seek aggressive
help from others. Still, it’s serious. So is dirty work, like baths, diapers
and dishes. And that's why it can’t be all that wrong to not do them for a little
while. You know, because CANCER.