Friday, August 28, 2009

Good Grief, the Stages

Her words had a sting to them. I heard her saying she was disappointed that I'm not dealing with this well. "I can tell by your body language that you're down, Mom."

"Caroline, I'm not feeling well today. I haven't felt well for seven days straight. I have no energy."

As the conversation continued, I realized she was coming from a place of love and concern and wanted to give me a pep talk; encourage her mother to get her mind into the fight. "That mind-body connection is so vital," she said. I couldn't argue. I know it. In fact, that morning I had made myself take some time for prayer and had come away with a renewed sense that giving in to discouragement would plunge me into a deeper battle that I didn't want to wage.

We talked about the stages of grief and how inevitable it is to experience them when given a life-threatening diagnosis. It occurred to me that I've been in and out of most of the stages even though it's hard for me to identify times of bargaining. Not sure I've been there. But certainly there's been plenty of denial, some anger, times of depression and times of acceptance.

We zeroed in on the hair loss. "Why are you so concerned about people seeing you without your wig, with just a scarf or whatever?" Caroline asked.

That was a great question and very difficult to pin down an answer. I've always wanted to just blend in, wearing a head covering shouts to the world, "I have cancer!" It begs attention and elicits sympathetic eyes trying to conceal sympathy. There's always vanity in the mix too. I want to look good and having no hair makes me feel very unattractive. Losing my hair has also made me face the denial I waffle in and out of. Every time I look in the mirror at my hairless head is one more stab of truth that, yes, I do have breast cancer. I do! Oh my God, I do!

Acceptance is within reach.

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