Cancer #5

I keep hitting these cognitive blocks. Why do I have to get node dissection on both sides when nobody else does? Because I have cancer on both sides of my body. Why are they removing both of my breasts? Because I have cancer on both sides of my body. Why? Because I have cancer on both sides of my body.

I was given some choices about reconstruction, spent days settled into this as the next impossibility. Do I want no reconstruction? Do I want flap reconstruction (they take fat from your belly and use it to form breasts out of your own tissue)? Do I want silicone implants? Do I want saline implants? Do I want implants under my pectoral muscles? Over my pectoral muscles? Do I want nothing now and everything later? None of my options were Do you want this to stop happening? Can you believe these choices?

I have a good life with so much joy in it. Talking to Charlotte in our hotel room in New Orleans, like a wave. I am so lucky! Dinner with Liza and Doug and Ivan, pizza and beer. I am so lucky! My girlfriend, my kid, my cats, my sisters, my mother, my brother. My colleagues near and far, close and away. The union filed a grievance last week, the first in my tenure as local president. Joy, pure joy. (And some fear! We should talk more about affect and power, maybe when I’m done facing down a big bad sickness.)

I am grateful for calendars and time that happens after, moderating a panel in April in Philadelphia, I’m proud of what we pulled together. The Material Conditions of the Historical Surprise. Some of my favorite archivists talking about how their labor produces your discovery. I should be good by then. I have more cancer than I want to have, it’s sort of everywhere, I haven’t met that many people with this much cancer, I have to get everything off and out. But it’s still the most typical kind, my options are many because this cancer is that normal. By April, I will have back the hair I haven’t lost yet.

My mind grazes lasts. This is the last time I’ll stand in my office with my breasts. This is the last time I’ll see my therapist with my breasts. This is the last time I’ll have sex with my breasts. (More on that one when I can wrap language around it, a devastation my internet searches say almost nothing about, like the erotic lives of men are what matter in that particular loss.) My mind grazes these lasts and turns right away, they’re just not available, it’s too much.

Everybody has been amazing.

Three days away, Tuesday.

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