I think what I fear most is not the surgery. I do fear it, as I think anyone fears it, but mostly, I fear what comes after.
I fear waking up after the procedure, knowing a part of my body is gone. I fear looking in the mirror for the first time. I fear some kind of crazy hormonal imbalance and early menopause and losing my womanhood. I’ve never felt sexy; I’ve never loved being in my own skin, and I fear feeling even less comfortable in it afterward.
I fear that when I wake up, I’ll think part of me is dead.
I’ve heard so many positive stories about reconstruction and being free of cancer and women going on to accomplish so much after surgery. What if something happens? What if there are complications?
Sometimes I’m not afraid of anything. Sometimes I feel like Xena the warrior princess. Like I could go give lectures and organize charity runs. Other times, I want to cry. I feel paralyzed. Like somehow, I’m facing the end of something.
I go for my pre-surgery meeting on Monday morning. They will do a complete set of genetic lab work to determine if I have the BRCA gene. I meet with my oncologist after the surgery. In the meantime, between all of these things that are sometimes very intimidating, life is the same as it’s always been, but with the boys asking questions, and sometimes not sure how to behave. They have a cursory knowledge of my condition; that it could be life-threatening if not treated; that things might get weird at home, but I think at their age they still lack the…what is the word? Empathy? They lack the empathy, I guess, to see very far beyond the things that immediately concern them. So I don’t know how to explain the whole thing to them. All I hear myself saying is “things are gonna be weird for a while. I’ll hang out on the sofa a lot”. I know I’m missing something, but I don’t know how to approach it.