Saturday, 26 March 2011

Welcome to 1989...

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time". --T. S. Eliot

This is my first foray into the world of blogging, but not into the world of breast cancer. My mother was first diagnosed when I was thirteen years old and she died when I was twenty-four. My notion of womanhood has always been intertwined with breast cancer. So, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks ago, I was instantly transported back to 1989, back to the beginning of my relationship with my breasts, womanhood, and (in many ways) my mother.  In that moment, I started to know.

However, I don't want to stay in 1989 nor do I want to be stuck in a state of knowing; I want to be doing. I will have a bilateral mastectomy at the end of April and then will begin the lengthy process of reconstruction. There is no doubt that this is the right course of action as I have the "breast cancer gene" (BRCA-1) and am considered "high risk." In fact, I have been mentally preparing for this surgery for the last 10 years as the threat of breast cancer was always salient. But, I am completely unprepared for how to negotiate my life as it interacts with my cancer. I have many unanswered questions: How will I tell my 6-year-old daughter about this? How will I occupy my time on my leave from work? Will I look remotely normal? Will I be able to have a casual fling without having to address my medical history before I take my top off?

For me, the most frustrating part of this experience is dealing with the lack of available resources to address my concerns in a way that is appropriate for my stage in life. I did not receive any information pertaining to breast cancer in young women during my debriefing session with a lovely elderly volunteer (and survivor) at the hospital. I started this blog in response to feeling isolated in the context of my breast cancer diagnosis. It is an opportunity for me to write about my life with, despite, and because of breast cancer. I hope that it will be useful to other young women who are in similar situations. 


  1. "We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.”

    Marcel Proust
    I wish you did not have to "know."

  2. I just came across your blog through a friend of a friend and it caught my many people I know seem to fighting breast cancer! I look forward to reading and learning more as you fight and win this battle!

    I also wanted to send along the name of an organization that might offer some support and make you feel less isolated during this challenging time in your life! It was created by another cancer survivor who felt that same isolation of being a young adult while he tacked leukemia.

  3. Bravo, starting a blog about this!

    I was 32 with two babies when diagnosed -- about the time your mother was, I guess. Most of the advice I got was totally irrelevant.

    I am sad to see so little has changed in terms of awareness of the different impact this has on younger women.

    Good for you for opening those doors.

  4. Sue, thanks for your support and encouragement.

    Sparkesl, thanks for the link (very cool) and for the support.

    Shelley, it is heartening to have the opportunity to connect with people like you who have been through it. Thanks!