Dear Sweatpants & Coffee tribe,
How are you? I mean really? Are you getting enough sleep? Hydrating okay? Are you feeling purposeful or adrift or frustrated or overwhelmed? I hope you’re checking in with yourself at least as often as you’d hope the server at your favorite restaurant would.
I’m in a weird place right now, fam. Weirder than usual, I should say.
On the one hand, things are great. I’m nearing the end of my chemotherapy – just one more to go! And after that, a final reconstruction surgery to swap out the place-holding expanders in my chest for permanent silicone implants that won’t feel sloshy or have corners. You wanna talk about weird – these pseudo-boobs I’ve got now have zero sensation and they contain bags of saline that I imagine look like those collapsible plastic flasks my friends and I would fill with rum and try to sneak into a concert. I know this is a lot of highly technical medical-speak, but I feel like you guys can handle it. Anyway, goodbye corner-boobs, hello nicely-rounded, numb, chestballs!
If this were a 5K (or one of those big, pink, festive fundraising walks) this is the part where I’d be approaching the finish line and people would be handing out stickers and holding up signs and cheering. But this isn’t that.
Because what they don’t tell you is that there is no finish line. When you join the Cancer Club, the membership is forever, until death do you part. You now get to hold your breath for the rest of your life every time you go in for a scan or have a headache or get a funky cough, because the truth is – no one actually kicks cancer’s ass. It either leaves you alone or it doesn’t and you have NO say about that. None. People want your struggle to be finite. They want it to have measurable results. They feel better if they can chart your progress on a timeline and they definitely want it to have an expiration date. They care about you, yes, but they also want to be able to put a check mark next to your name on their Things To Worry About list. It’s so unsatisfying to think about a nebulous, constant, invisible grind. What’s heroic and inspirational about that?
What they don’t tell you is even if you complete treatment successfully, as I am poised to do, you are forever changed. Your body is different. Parts have been cut out. What’s left has been poisoned and zapped. You have scars, internal and external. I’m pretty sure I have PTSD. More than I did when I started, that is. And, oh, the survivors guilt! It’s a new and tasty flavor of guilt that has been added to my already extensive guilt collection. Survivorship is not merit-based, and anyone who thinks so should check their health privilege. If good health were a meritocracy, you and I both know a few folks who should still be here.
What they don’t tell you is that everyone is so busy saving your life that no one is paying attention to what’s going on inside your head. And your psyche is taking a beating. They don’t tell you that you will regularly wake up in the middle of the night, sweating from the premature menopause you’re in because you cut off your breasts and then poisoned yourself for 5 months so your body figured it was time to shut down all uterus-related activities. You lie there, feeling vaguely as though something terrible might happen, and then you realize, “Oh, yeah. It already did.”
What they do tell you – and this is the heart-squeezing, stop-your-breath-every-time-you-think-of-it part – is that people like you, who were diagnosed in an early stage of breast cancer, have a 30% chance of going on to develop Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Which is incurable. Stage IV is the unsexy kind of breast cancer. It’s not pink and fabulous. It’s depressing and sad and scary. It’s months instead of the years you should have had. It’s 41,000 people a year dying.
This is why we’ve partnered with PLB Coffee to bring you delicious coffee (you guys, even the decaf is yummy – it’s not brown sadness-water, it tastes like full-bodied, actual coffee) that also raises money for METAvivor, a charity dedicated to fundraising for a cure for metastatic breast cancer. That’s their focus. Not awareness. A CURE. And 100% of all donations to METAvivor go directly toward cure research. A portion of the proceeds from every bag of coffee you buy will go to METAvivor. I mean. If you buy this coffee, you’re basically becoming a caffeinated superhero.
Lastly, on Sunday, Aug. 6, we are launching a very special Anxiety Blob Friendship Day Box! Each box will have a limited edition mint green Anxiety Blob, handmade by a single artisan, a full-sized bag of our custom roast coffee, and many more goodies which I talk about in this video. I’m totally eloquent here and I don’t ramble at ALL. Promise.