There Is No 'Right' Way To Have Cancer
My name is Eva, I am from a small town in south Germany (yes, Bavaria) near Munich. I was born there, and I have been working in Munich as a librarian for the past five years. The things I love most in life are books, dogs, and concerts. I was 29 when I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer and was tested positive for BRCA1 in July 2018. I received chemotherapy, and after finishing treatment in January, I got a skin sparing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction for both breasts. Since March 2019 my doctors declared me cancer free. I am still trying to cope with all what happened. Doing this with humor, even on the bad days, is what I choose to do.
What do you do after your doctor tells you you have breast cancer?
a.) cry for days
b.) pray to your god (or any god)
c.) or gather your friends, go out and get absolutely, incredibly smashed??
Well, it was c for me all the way.
They told me I had breast cancer, and while I waited for follow appointments to be made in order to start treatment, I sat outside the doctor's office and texted all the important people in my life that the the tiny lump I felt in my right breast was in fact, cancer.
(Looking back, it was not a really decent way to handle this. No one should have to read such news on their phone, but being in shock as I was, I couldn't call the people I love. I had no words.)
I cried, and during two sobs I thought: "I have to go out. Dancing, or God knows what. I have to celebrate life now hard,as long as I still can."
This was the one thought I could think clearly, mixed in all the "I AM GOING TO DIE“ and "I HAVE NEVER EVEN BEEN TO HAWAII FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE."
It was a Thursday, and come Saturday it was my town's yearly city fair. It's your normal small town summer main event – if you ever watched Gilmore Girls, the episode where they all go crazy during the Hazy-Crazy-Days of summer, just imagine it like this. At such events, if you have lived an amount of time in a place, you usually bump into people you have not seen in quite some time: from your kindergarten crushes to ex-boyfriends, former classmates and so on. People you are happy to see, and of course some you would like to hide from.
I texted some of my favorite people and we ended up being a group of old friends, new friends, my boyfriend, my sister and so on. Every time someone asked me how I was I didn't really answer, I much rather started making up really intense little speeches how I wanted future things "to be as normal as possible" and how I "will use this time to become a better person" and crap like that. If I could I'd travel back in time and slap that naive me and then hug her really tight. I was so afraid.
So – we went out. We sat among hundreds of people on some beer benches, listened to the bands, had food and drinks. And I drank, like there was literally no tomorrow.
At one point I got up and went to the the toilet. On my way I met a guy I went to school with and hooked up with once or twice later. We hugged, and he asked: "How are you?" And, out of nowhere, I screamed: "THANK YOU, I HAVE BREAST CANCER" into the poor guy's face. I will never ever forget the way he looked at me, how shocked he was. It was like seeing just a tiny bit of the shock on his face, and plus, on the face of someone who was just someone I used to know, that kind of helped. Saying "I have breast cancer" out loud to someone who was not one of my loved ones helped me realizing what was happening to me. I could say it out loud. It was a relief.
Drinking my weight in booze may certainly have helped too. I met a lot of other folks I used to know that night – people I hung with while I was growing up, girls I used to work with, ex-neighours, and so on.
"What have you been up to?"
"Well, not so good, I have cancer." I said it again and again, and the shock wore of, the more I heard myself say the words. For people I didn't care much about, I had words. The random
people I met that night –if I offended anyone, I am sorry. I truly am. But thank you for letting me tell you, it has helped me so much and taught me, with this crazy disease, during the shit show your life becomes – there is no right or wrong way to handle it. And never let anyone tell you how to have cancer "right." It sucks, but you will figure it out.
I will never forget that night. Aside for being scared for my life and incredibly hungover for almost two days, we did really have a blast: danced in the streets, people fell in love, we watched the sunrise. Besides for my occasional "I HAVE CANCER" blurt outs, it was a really nice evening. I will never forget that night.