Saturday, August 15, 2015

Washing Dishes

Washing Dishes - by Ginger Hamilton

I was drafted into a war I didn't want to fight. Conscientious objecting was not an option and I couldn't move to Canada to avoid it. I unknowingly stumbled into the front lines as I received my draft notice. "Your test was positive," translated into "You have breast cancer and it has spread." 

My mind further translated it into "You are going to die."

I hate the symbol for breast cancer – the pastel pink ribbon. The treatment for breast cancer tends to rob a woman of her outward signs of femininity. Every single hair on every part of my body fell out. 

My breast was markedly smaller, and had ugly red and purple tracks on it. Then third degree burns from radiation turned the already assaulted breast into a swollen, deep red, leathery lump.

Chemotherapy caused my periods to stop, ensuring I would never again give birth. 

No, the symbol for breast cancer should be a black ribbon or at the very least, a deep brown one. There's nothing girlie about breast cancer.

I was told by my oncologist that if I live long enough, complications from breast cancer will end my life. Of course, I may get lucky and be clobbered by a Mack truck or mugged or have a heart attack. But my chances of "dying peacefully" in my sleep of "natural causes" are slim to none.

I hate the term `survivor.' I hate the concept of obituaries which state someone succumbed "after a long courageous battle with cancer." Why don't they say "passed away after a long courageous battle with old age" for folks in their upper nineties and older? Who says they fought a courageous battle anyway? 

Personally, I am not fighting a battle with cancer, and I am not a survivor. Women are notably strong but I believe it's unnatural and unhealthy to maintain a battle-ready state of mind.

Cancer is part of my daily existence. Why should I engage my own body in a battle with itself? Positive imagery is a wonderful concept where folks picture their cancer cells and then picture themselves eliminating the cancer cells. 

Studies have shown that folks who picture battle themes such as shooting, bombing, and stabbing cancer cells have a shorter life expectancy than those who use less violent imagery.

Personally, I see my body as a plate and the cancer cells as leftover food on the plate. I scrape what I can off into the garbage. Then I use hot water and detergent to thoroughly clean the plate. I love the idea of throwing and washing away the cancer and leaving sparkling clean body cells. It is satisfying and something I can relate to in my external existence.

There are concentration camp survivors. Hopefully, they will never again be in a concentration camp. There are earthquake survivors and rattlesnake bite survivors – even bear and shark attack survivors. None of those folks ever have to go through their experience again. 

Breast cancer doesn't go away forever for those whose cancer has spread. We are not survivors. We are unwilling participants in a never-ending war where we remain on the front lines, ever attentive for enemy attack. 

If you'll excuse me, I have plates to wash. ~ GH

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