Emotional Basketcase

This was written May 8-ish.

I have officially decided to do a full mastectomy. At this point, the benefits just seem to outweigh the risks. The tumor is too large for a lumpectomy, so reconstruction of the breast is necessary. By law, North Carolina insurance companies must pay to match or reconstruct breasts after a cancer diagnosis, and since I am so young, chances are good that it can come back if I don’t nip this in the bud now.

My insurance is great, my mom is available to help me indefinitely, and my job allows me to work from home. So, why not get them both done? I’ll never need another mammogram and there is zero risk it will ever come back. Downtime is exactly the same for one or both, and I will never have to go through this particular hell again.

However. As the days go by, I am finding that this decision is more emotional than I thought.

In fact, the emotional side of this is getting pretty desperate. As I am letting more people in on my secret over text (because I just can’t bring myself to do it in person or via phone call with more than a handful of people), I find myself feeling the need to address the “elephant in the room” when I see them in person. And, in true Emily fashion, I do it in the most awkward of situations.

Out to drink with friends having barely said hello, “I’m getting new boobs! Cheers!”

Catching myself gossiping about something stupid, “This is why I have cancer.”

Almost any other situation, “Can you do it for me?? I have cancer.”

Obviously, these are jokes, and hopefully people get that. I can’t help but make jokes about it because it would overwhelm me otherwise.

So, I belittle it as much as possible, but when people look at me like they truly understand what I am going through, I can’t help but be grateful for their kindness.

A big part of me knows this is not life-threatening. It is simply life-changing. For now. In 6 months, this will (hopefully) be a thing of the past and life will return to normal.

But another, smaller part of me wonders if this is a real earthquake in my little world. Is my life about to change forever? Will I be able to find a guy who doesn’t care that my nipples are fake? Will I still have hair in 6 months? Am I going to be singled out as “the cancer patient” at the bachelorette party?? I know this isn’t what my friend expected when she asked me to be in her wedding in January next year.

We only have until August to turn in our sizes for our dresses. I don’t even know what my body is going to look like in August. Will the dress cover up my scars? What if she picks a strapless? Will I even have boobs to hold it up?!

Most likely, life will return to normal and my size won’t really change that much, but these are just some of the “what-ifs” my mind refuses to turn off at night when I should be sleeping (the ones I previously recommended staying away from). The highs and lows of all of this are incredibly ridiculous and exhausting.

Sometimes I can feel myself trying to sink down into that rabbit hole of darkness and fold in on myself. I have to willingly pull myself out of that. And that shit is no fun.

Which is why I have to laugh at this situation I’ve gotten myself into.

Because if you can’t laugh at it, what can you do?!

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