Why I'm Sick of Talking About Breast Cancer but Will Never Stop

The other day someone asked me if I get sick of talking about breast cancer. While she is just 14, I really thought it was an intense question.

I think people who do not have cancer or any lasting illness do not fully understand just how sick of it we are. Just because you can’t see what we are dealing with, you expect us to be over it — when our reality can’t bring us away from it.

Yes, I do get sick of talking about breast cancer.

I get sick of dealing with it every frigging day! I want to forget it ever happened to me, but that can’t happen for many reasons.

I have tried very hard to remove my family and friends from my everyday talkings of my cancer life (sorry if it filters in, but this is my reality now). They are probably reading this thinking that is a load, but really, you have no idea how much more I want to say.

This is what I wake up and deal with every single day and even when I sleep. I think for them because I am not recovering in a hospital from a surgery or bald from chemo or dealing with burns from radiation they think, “Well she is all done.”

Such is not the case.

The scars are so painful it hurts me physically on a daily basis. I see a dermatologist still five years later for spots that have come back — basal cell and for my keloids. The scars are very deep and very real all over my body, but you do not see them. Only I do.

Fact: I never asked for this cancer. When I look in the mirror naked (which is rare because I prefer the neck up) I see nothing but a scared breast cancer woman.

Yes, I am sick of talking about breast cancer, but how can I stop when this is what I see daily?

I can’t sleep at night because my body is aching from my lymphedema, cording, numbness and weird pains in my breast that were not there before. The joint pain from taking my hormone blocker keeps me from getting a good night’s sleep. My joints ache and I can’t get comfortable at all because of my chest pains.

Yes, I am sick of talking about breast cancer, but how can I stop when I can’t even sleep because of it?

Doctor, doctor, doctor! See, as much as I want to get cancer out of my life, I have a doctor’s appointment every other month, if not monthly. Then there are scans and blood work. Every appointment I hope I’ll be OK, but I just get sick to my stomach for every single one.

Enter scanxiety, which builds up all week. I am poked and jabbed and scanned and felt up more than I ever thought was possible. I sit and wait in doctors offices waiting to hear “no evidence of disease” and I breathe a sigh of relief until the next time.

Yes, I am sick of talking about breast cancer, but my doctor appointments make it impossible to avoid.

I have made some of my best friends because of breast cancer. We have formed this bond that is unbreakable. We rely on each other to lift us up to lean on and to commiserate with. We watch as some have been taken away from this disgusting disease. We are then filled with grief mixed with guilt and heartbreak and a touch of relief that it wasn’t us, which adds even more to our survivor’s guilt.

I am completely sick of this cancer world but know this is my bizarre world I hate yet love. But I will not leave it because my family is here and they know just how I feel.

Yes, I am sick of talking about breast cancer, but I will never leave them because I need their support as much as they need me.

Breast cancer never just ends; it really does not. But each day does get a little better.

We first find ourselves as the newly diagnosed, trying to find our way through this and understand all the lingo and the grasp what the hell is about to happen.

We start making connections and figure out where we fit in and who will help us the most.

We then ease into the surgery and treatment part where we need the guidance and tips of those who have been there. They help us more than our doctors (even though we do love our docs).

We form more bonds and find ways to laugh at our nails falling off and drains hanging from our body because these amazing people have been there.

Then we start to be the ones who really are just trying to adjust to the new normal, the ones living the post-traumatic stress of the aftermath of cancer. The “What the hell just happened?” because I am still processing the last five years!

Cancer puts you on a full force roller coaster and sends you off on a hell ride leaving you dazed and confused from it all. The aftermath isn’t just about your body adjusting, it is about your mind healing as well. The emotional scars do not seem to ever really go away — or maybe I am still at the healing phase so the jury is still out on this part. Soon we become the veterans — the ones who have been through it all — and we want to help those in all stages of this roller coaster ride.

Yes, I am sick of talking about breast cancer, but shit, my head is still on this ride!

So there you have it  — sick of talking about it but will not, cannot and won’t stop.

I wonder if this will help those without cancer to understand why we can’t stop? We want to but can’t.

Here is the thing. Those “cancer-free” moments — you know, when you are out to dinner with your friends, on a walk, sitting and just relaxing, listening to your kids fight, maybe exercising — whatever they are, those moments when for even a second you do not think, talk breath or feel cancer…  attack them, embrace them and be cancer-free ’cause let’s face it — that is a state of mind, not a medical term.

AnnMarie Otis I am not cancer photo

This post was originally published on Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Breast Cancer

woman laying in field of flowers

Musings on the Day I Was Told I Had Breast Cancer

On Election Day in 2012, as I stood in line at the Methodist Church with mostly conservatives (I can usually tell by their attire), I thought about other results over which I had no control. At an appointment later that afternoon, I would finally know what total strangers had been privy to days before me  [...]
Hand drawn woman with suitcase going to travel

How Breast Cancer Turned Me Into a Minimalist

I have always been somewhat of a minimalist despite growing up in the household of an antiques dealer. As a child I was surrounded by collections of every kind — antique mirrors, old tools and dusty furniture. When I was finally on my own I realized the lightness I felt without those things around me. [...]
Close-up of woman performing self-exam against breast cancer

One or Both? The Big Decision Many Women With Breast Cancer Have to Make.

Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2012 two more people I know have received the same bad news. As I lie awake last night I can’t stop thinking about the most recently diagnosed woman who has to make up her mind soon to have either one breast or both breasts removed. One [...]
Breast Cancer Tattoo Feature

6 Tattoo Artists Turning Breast Cancer Scars Into Works of Art

Life is forever changed when someone is diagnosed with breast cancer or tests positive for BRCA1 and BRCA2 –genes that increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancer. Then, when a mastectomy occurs, another layer of emotional and physical recovery is thrown into the mix. Luckily, there are a few talented tattoo artists out there [...]