Blue Fairy’s Breast Cancer – guest posts

Be sure to check the Cancer Blogs Lists periodically as I add new blogs every week. One of them I found recently is called The Blue Fairy’s Breast Cancer Blog, a new site as its author was just diagnosed last month.  Writing from the United Kingdom, Ondine Blue describes herself as a “dancer, graphic designer, and keen photographer.”  I am republishing two of her posts.  Each reminds us of those early terrifying days when our worlds were turned upside down.

Strange echoes in my mind

It’s weird how cancer takes over not just your day-to-day life but your mind as well. I am finding it harder and harder to ignore the annoyingly incessant little murmur; ‘oh shit, I have cancer!’ that never seems far from my thoughts. I wake up to it in the middle of the night, first thing in the morning, in fact whenever I have a moment’s repose.  I’ve ended up caught between being almost desperately practical about everything to wandering around in a kind of stupor trying to remember what it is I should be doing. It’s maddening, sometimes deafening and I wish it would just get the hell out of my head! I know I have cancer and I don’t need a constant reminder thank you very much!
My practical side is working overtime to compensate for all of this. For instance I should have guessed just how hard it would be to buy a simple mastectomy bra in my size when it’s hard to buy 30D bras at the best of times. I’ve spent hours in front of my laptop searching through specialist websites in the hope of finding something suitable. I’ve also made numerous phone calls as I continue the hunt for that oh so elusive garment. Someone I spoke to at a manufacturer said ‘oh I’m sorry but we only stock normal sizes.’ There was a very long silence when I asked if she could recommend anything for ‘abnormal’ people like me! I know that as a nation we are growing in size but for heaven’s sake I see plenty of women on the streets that are petite like me, where are we supposed to buy our bras!
This of course turns up the volume of that persistent murmur and once again I find myself thinking about cancer instead of what I need to be doing about it. It creeps slowly up to catch me unawares, one minute I am sharing a laugh with a friend and in the next I am plunged into despair at the thoughts of losing my breast. I’ve ended up in a kind of alternate reality where the thoughts and worry about cancer constantly dog my heels, threatening to overtake me, but so far not quite succeeding. This is worst at night because I am finding it increasingly hard to sleep. I wake up several times a night just thinking about the consequences of my diagnosis. People around me offer reassuring platitudes about how good survival rates for breast cancer are and that I should try not to worry about having a scar because the surgeon will do his best to make it as small and neat as possible. They are absolutely right and the logical part of my mind is nodding in agreement with them, but cancer is still Cancer and treatment comes with no guarantees. A scar in place of a breast is still exactly that and something that I will have to look at every day – not something to look forward to!

swimming against the tide

When actually all I’m really doing is at best treading water. I have had a bad few days which started at the weekend when I met up with a lot of friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen since well before I was diagnosed. Up until now much of my communication about what’s happening has been using the written word but this was different; I had to say out loud “I have breast cancer” and was unprepared for the profound effect that would have both on me and those I said it too.

The upside was that I discovered just how much I mean to so many people and that they care a great deal about me, but the downside was that I found it a deeply emotional experience and as a result, very difficult to deal with. I was not prepared for this because I have managed to be very practical and matter-of-fact about it all so far, so suddenly finding myself in floods of tears and unable to face anyone a strange and unnerving position to be in.

Later on, when I was better able to face everyone, I then found that a lot of people admire me for being brave, but I don’t feel brave at all. In fact inside I am scared about all of it; the operation itself, how I will feel afterwards, how it will affect those around me and the prospect of further treatment.

Being brave has nothing to with it all, it is merely a sense of having to deal with it and for the most part being unwilling to drown because that in itself is frightening.

Okay, that’s enough of the water imagery for the moment! Let’s move onto more practical things! See? that’s how I deal with it all! 😀 I am still on the hunt for the illusive, almost mythical beast that is a post-op bra in my size. Where are they all hiding, that’s what I want to know.

~ The Blue Fairy’s Breast Cancer Blog

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About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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