Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Today, my sister in law had a double mastectomy. My fingers kind of froze after typing that. The words aren't coming easy to express all that I'm feeling: worry, anger, sadness.

I remember the morning, she called and told me about her diagnosis. I wanted to cry because I knew there were unpleasant things coming in her future... things you can't avoid or run from... not if you want to live. She had a great attitude through the chemo, and managed to stay upbeat as much as anyone can that has no energy and feels like throwing up. When her hair started to fall out, she cut it short and dyed it orange. When it got too thin, she shaved it off and bought a bunch of wigs. I joked with her at Thanksgiving as all the kids ran around the house wearing her wigs, that she was making cancer look like too much fun.

In reality, I knew it wasn't any fun. The diagnosis alone would make me want to curl up in a corner and pull dirty laundry over my head hoping no one would ever find me, but the treatment is no walk in the park. First there are all the tests and opinions, the chemo with all its side effects and the surgery. How do you prepare yourself to get that which makes us feel feminine removed? I know, they're just breasts, but I'm rather attached to mine. They make my clothes hang nicely and my husband's eyes twinkle; they alone nourished my child for her first four months. It would be hard to say good bye. My sister-in-law is going to have reconstruction, but I wonder if they will ever really feel like hers, or will it be like when you get a tooth crowned... It works the same, but you can tell it's not original equipment.

Mostly, I'm glad she's alive and the prognosis is good. But I wish she hadn't had to experience this. I wish no one did.


Tammie said...

oh betts im so sorry about your sister in law. i dont really know what to say.

whenever something BIG and bad happens in my life, after the initial freak out i think "well i guess this is the new normal and i need to deal with this." it sounds like your SIL has a new normal.

i wish no one had to experience it either.

Lorilee said...

I am so sorry that your sister-in-law had to experience cancer. She sounds like she has a wonderful attitude.

Mama Bee said...

Holy shit, Betts! Honestly, I don't have much more to supply in the way of advice, solace, etc.

Just Holy. Fucking. Shit.

But wigs do sound fun. :)

Aunt Becky said...

Good LORD. Sending her all the healing vibes I've got. She's a tough cookie, for sure.

Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful piece of writing, even if its inspiration was ugly and scary. I don't think any of us want to know what it feels like to be her, but of those I've known who've gone through it, every one of them has come out a better person, original parts or not.

Anne said...

Just happened to pass by your blog. Sorry to hear about your sister-in-law. It must have been such a frightening experience for her and her family.

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