The breast surgeon said, ‘if you feel up to it.’ Therapist #1 said, ‘you might want to consider staying home.’ Plastic surgeon said, ‘I don’t care, I make boobs.’ Therapist #2, who specializes in cancer patients, said ‘absolutely do NOT go.’ And the dentist said, ‘I basically need to drill your face off every day so stay here.’ Okay, so I may have paraphrased the plastics guy and the dentist, but you get the gist.
What am I even talking about, you wonder? A dear friend of mine is getting married in New York State this evening. Joe and I were scheduled to fly out this morning and return Sunday night. We have been looking forward to this wedding for a long time and I miss my friend, so when the whirlwind of diagnosis came and surgery had to be scheduled, I said, ‘It has to be after May 14. I have a wedding to attend.’
After the initial few weeks of adrenaline and denial started to wear off, my anxiety started to creep up to the surface. I am an anxious person to begin with, hence my homie Prozac, and flying requires a whole new category of drugs. My thoughts on attending the wedding started to waver.
Flying twice in 36 hours was just the tip of the iceberg. What really concerned me was a much bigger iceberg (think pre-global warming, Al Gore, level iceberg). I present as a fully functioning, fun-time girl. What lies below the surface is an anxious mess.
Since diagnosis, I have found that small-talk has become really, really difficult. And it is even harder when the person I am talking to knows of my diagnosis. Telling the story ad-nauseum, with a breezy smile on my face, is turning my physical body into a walking volcano.
We attended a gala the other night and though I smiled, cracked jokes (and looked fabulous, may I add), I could feel actual quaking anxiety under my skin. It took more energy to small-talk my way through that evening than it did to run a half marathon. At that moment, I knew deep down I wouldn’t be able to handle the wedding 4 days before my surgery.
Calling the bride almost did me in. Thank god the call went to voicemail. If I had to actually speak to this woman I love and care about and tell her I was too emotionally weak to attend her wedding, there may have been a child calling 911 on their face-down, sobbing mother.
Being selfish by its very nature should be easy. I am here to tell you, it is not. Taking care of my needs on this last weekend of freedom has not come naturally to me. I may always regret not getting my shit together and making my way to New York.
I will cry today at 5pm when I know my beautiful friend is saying her vows. But I have made my choice and my choice is me.
Joe and I are keeping our babysitter and disappearing to a local, mystery location. I need these days to cry, nap, wander aimlessly, drink milkshakes (fucking dentist), cry and nap without abandon. To quote my spiritual guru Bob Wiley, “I’m taking a vacation from my problems” (if you don’t understand this reference, re-think your life, people).
To my dear bride, I am sorry that cancer exists and has caused my absence at your wedding. Because it will be significantly less fun without me. Word to your mother.