Dearest Sweatpants & Coffee tribe,
The other day as I was turning onto my street, which is in a quiet, residential neighborhood, a car traveling in the opposite direction cut the corner and almost hit me. As I swerved to avoid a collision, my body zinging with adrenaline, I let out a mighty battle cry. Except it sounded like this: “Rawr.”
You always try to imagine what your battle cry might be, and apparently, mine is that of a reproachful cat. A small one. Who knew?
Nevertheless. You never know when life is going to cut a corner and throw some challenge in your path, but when it does, you find yourself rising to meet it, if not exactly in the way you expected. I find this to be true of rogue drivers, unanticipated guests, plumbing issues, terrifying political developments, and embarrassingly placed clothing stains – most situations, really.
Most recently, my challenge has been breast cancer. It’s not the only challenge. I wheeze like an asthmatic bullfrog on the elliptical. The number of unread emails in my inbox gives me anxiety hives. Some days, the depression is thick as glue. But let’s say that breast cancer has been my most eventful challenge of late.
Last week, I had surgery to remove more tissue (I had a bilateral mastectomy back in July and am currently sporting a couple of saline bags where my breasts used to be). A precaution, the docs said. We didn’t get clear margins the first time, and when it comes to tumors, you don’t really want to fuck around, so back under the knife I went. It’s fine. They snipped off my right nipple. No big deal. Outpatient procedure, in and out. Home by lunch.
Except it turns out that it is a big deal. Like, way bigger than I thought it would be. Or should be. I know amazing, heroic people with crap metastasized onto their lungs or pain in every joint of their body that’s so bad they could scream, except they don’t. People who have suffered intolerable loss, but they still get up in the morning and go to work and eat sandwiches and shit, like their insides aren’t sandpapered raw. Me? My chest looks like a winky face emoji now, and I cry about it.
It is what it is. You don’t always get to pick your battle. Sometimes, the battle picks you. And you don’t know if you’ll face it with dignity and determination, or if you’ll cry a bunch, eat potato chips and onion dip, and marathon old episodes of Supernatural on Netflix until the panicky ache in your throat subsides. Sometimes, that’s what your fight looks like.
What I want to say to you is this: whatever your fight is and however you are fighting it, you freaking rock. And you are not alone. We each have our own struggle to face. Just today, I found a hole in my favorite pair of leggings. (Damn you, universe! Why does everything bad always happen to me?!) But the point is that we are, none of us, alone in the fact that we struggle. We are clumsy and tired and ridiculous and imperfect and beautiful. And when the road is rough, we swerve if we must.