I was up in Friendship Heights last week, when I received the call from my oncologist's office. The physician's assistant tried as kindly as she could to break the news to me:
So…the lab finally got back to us with the results. You're HER2 positive. [HER2 is one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.]
Me: I had a feeling.
We decided that I would have a mediport installed on Friday, September 17th. [A mediport is a device that's implanted under the skin and allows easy access to your veins.] And then, she scheduled me for my first of six chemotherapy sessions on Tuesday, September 21st.
When I hung up the phone, I leaned against the window of an empty storefront and sobbed for a few minutes. You know those cries where your whole body shakes? Yeah, it was that kind of cry.
Two people walked by me. I sensed that they wanted to stop, but didn't know what to say. I guess that I didn't know what to say either. (Well, besides the word, "fuck.")
I haven't cried that much since Friday, but I feel unsettled. I'm starting chemo tomorrow. There are days in which I love watching the clock move forward hour-by-hour. But, I'm watching the hours pass today as though I'm waiting for the bell to toll.
I don't want chemo. At all.
I don't want to worry about how my already weakened immune system will react to chemotherapy. I don't want to be more nauseous than I already am on a given week. I don't want to wonder if I'll fall within the 15% of people who lose their hair on this type of treatment.
Did I mention that I don't want it?
On the night after I got the port put in, my man came over to my place. The port surprisingly hurts a lot, and he's never seen me in this much pain. I was in so much pain that I didn't even want to orgasm or have sex. Me!
Me: You realize that this is going to get a lot worse, right?
Him: Yes, and I'll be here for you.
Me: I just feel really vulnerable now. Like I don't want cancer to be the reason why we don't work out.
Him: That's not going to happen.
Me: If I'm bald?
Him: I'll help you find a hot wig. Some look that you've always wanted to try. You are going to look sexy no matter what!
Me [smiling as I bury my head in his chest]: Maybe…what if I lose my sex drive?
Him: That's not going to happen with you.
Me [laughing out loud]: Misty joked that if I lose my sex drive I would still have a normal person's drive.
Him: Exactly. And, if you lose your drive, then it just means that I have to work harder.
I kissed him, as I fought back tears. It must be karma or God's way of balancing my life out that in the midst of fighting cancer, my relationship with my man and my blog are better than ever!
As I think about the months that lie ahead, I can't help but feel grateful for early diagnosis and great medical care. I realize that there could have been a much different ending to this story. I also appreciate that the treatment that I will undergo in the coming months is to ensure that I'll be around for decades to come. I owe it to myself, my loved ones and the child I will adopt to be as strong as I can and do whatever possible to live a very long life.
Yesterday, I was interviewed for a breast cancer documentary. The producers asked me how breast cancer affected me and three words came to mind:
Vanity; Advocacy and Humanity.
I feel blessed to have such an outpouring of support from friends and readers. On the advocacy front, I know that I will be doing more with the issue of toxic ingredients in sex toys. I'm a sex blogger with breast cancer and a penchant for helping others. I anticipate speaking out about the use of cancer-causing phthalates in adult toys…under my real name.
But first, I need to kick this cancer thing. And, vanity requires me to do that with my own long red locks.