Archive for December, 2009


Yesterday was my last day of radiation. For the first time, I talked to the other people in the waiting room, most of whom were there for breast cancer – a young woman, maybe 30; a woman in her 40s whose husband came with her every day, and an older woman, maybe in her early sixties, who was very enthusiastic about Scientology. “I just wish I’d found it earlier,” she said ruefully, “and then maybe I wouldn’t be here.”


They all wished me luck, as did the technicians I’ve gotten to know ever so slightly over the last seven weeks. I met with one of the nurses, who gave me a parting gift – a fleece blanket, a diploma, a t-shirt that doesn’t say “I survived breast cancer and all I got was this lousy t-shirt,” even though it clearly should. There was a piece of hard candy with a pink ribbon on it, and a little pink bear I put on my dashboard.

Today I started Tamoxifen, which I will take for the next five years; it can cause hair thinning and hot flashes, but will probably not be a huge deal. Dr Levine gave me the option of also shutting down my ovaries, though he wasn’t enthusiastic. It appeals to me because it is extreme; I didn’t have my breasts cut off, so I feel I am due for something a little edgy. But all the same I probably won’t do it. (I’m getting a second opinion from my Indiana oncologist anyway.)

I know I ought to be really happy about finishing radiation, but instead all I seem to feel is blank. I am done, but I cannot yet return to my life. It’s not clear what there is to return to; my Indiana life is gone for good, my New York life hasn’t yet begun. I am ambivalent about it anyway. I apply for jobs; I play with the cats. Soon it will be Christmas.

The other day, Tuesday I guess, I started to cry during my treatment. It’s so quick, radiation, that I only got two or three tears out before the techs came back in and I had to lie and say my eyes were watering because of allergies, which they pretended to believe. What I was thinking was, I no longer have any reason to ever get out of bed in the mornings, apart from the eventual need to use the bathroom. I tell myself to cut out the self-pity, but the fact remains that there is nothing. Everything that was my life is gone, and I don’t know what is next.

This morning I took my first Tamoxifen – the first of 1,825. I’m not good at remembering to take pills, but by the time I’m done with these – when I’m 29, for Heaven’s sake – I imagine I’ll be a pro.


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