Whoa. I am in a massive time of healing. And it’s happening collectively — I reach out and share and other loves reach out and share. Since being diagnosed with DCIS grade zero — early breast cancer — almost three weeks ago I have become more me than I’ve ever been. I’ve gone down the existential mind-fuckery rabbit hole of having genetic testing and still waiting for those results. Wednesday I had a lumpectomy. I’ll meet with a radiation specialist about, well, radiation, and then an oncologist about taking a preventive drug for the next five years. But I'm sharing more than Ini Kamoze's Hotsteppah is a lyrical gangsta! (You're just gonna have to hang with the occasional 90s reference in this post. My brain is at capacity.)
My sisters have come to my aid in major ways. My family has been really special. My sister Karen went to the meeting with the genetic counselor and that was invaluable. I had no idea how much I would need her to be there. When a scientist describes how, if you have BRCA1 or BRCA2, your genes can be X-d out and you become like a wall made of paper that anyone could push through with his or her finger, scary is an understatement. I don’t want to be a wall made of paper. Having my sister there for that meeting was so important.
My sisters, Mary Beth and Nancy, came up for my surgery. They’ll be back in town for my meetings with the other doctors.
Right now I cry as I listen to my husband play guitar upstairs — a song that one of our dear friends wrote and the three of us played together when we met up in Florida a couple weeks ago. The song has been our February theme. It’s beautiful.
I cry because I’m grateful. I cry because I’m not stuffing tears anymore. So Kendall Square Cinema is probably going to see a lot more of me with a wet face than me with a lump in my throat, for example. I always want to cry at things but I used to just try to keep the tears in (not all the time — but at movies and what I considered “silly stuff.” None of it is silly stuff. Cry your tears. Don’t stuff them and have them manifest somewhere else).
My friends have been ridiculously amazing. I shared my situation on Facebook and the outpouring of love has been overwhelming. It’s bumped me up into the stratosphere. Two friends I’ve known my whole life (but am not super close with) showed me my light — they said I shone when I was a kid and I shine now. One of those friends posted that sentiment to one of my Instagram photos the day after my surgery and it pushed me into such a crying jag — one of intense gratitude — that I had to call my sisters. I cried so hard I got dizzy. I needed to release so much old stuff — of not feeling like I was worthy, of hiding my fire. I realized that people who know me have seen my light all along — even during the time when I was too scared to show it and hid it. I don’t want to go back to that. I don’t think I have to. Tremendous healing is taking place.
I can’t tie this all up in a neat bow — and, actually, I’m trying not to do that. I’m trying to let these feelings come as they do and let them through. I’m reading all the things I need to read and I’m taking breaks where I need to take breaks. So that’s what’s up for now. It’s crazy. Or, really, the sanest thing ever. And I’m giving so fewer shits about what people think about me and how my work is received. But my book is getting good. My books are getting good, I should say. Because there is a lot to write. And I was quiet for too long. Not saying “too long” to beat myself up, just — hello, floodgates, open on up. Mama’s ready for you. But, like, I’ve learned a lot already so let’s let this be just this lump I've had removed and we’ll take care of it and move on from here. Thanks. Love you.
PS. Archangel Michael, you can please help me out with this. Oh yeah, I've gotten, like, way more spiritual over the last month. Way.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.