This Scary Thing, That Scary Thing



To: The Month May
From: Pamela Jeanne
Subject: Go Easy On the Life Stuff, ‘Kay?
cc: Coming2Terms Readers

We all know that I’m just now finding my sea legs with this whole “getting on with my life all barren and beautiful” so bear with me if I get a little wobbly now and then. You’ve been warned. This blog is likely to go through some growing pains (more on that and other non-mom stuff coming soon).

Truth be told, the “I am a published author” thing hasn’t really sunk in yet. I still wake up with goofy bed hair, wonder if my next 40-something years will be as weird as the first 40-something years, and, you know, generally get on with the business of living … commute to work, grocery shop, take out the trash and do the laundry, etc., etc.

Also distracting me from the culmination of five years of editorial effort, there were the brutal reality checks that came flying at me in April. If you’ve been following my Tweets you know that I had a breast cancer scare. (Yeah, I needed that like I needed a hole in the head!) One fine day in April I showed up for my annual mammogram. Two days later on a bad cellphone connection, just ahead of Easter, I heard a voice fading in and out from the imaging center saying, “Drs. so and so don’t like what they see” — can I come back the Tuesday after Easter for an ultrasound of my mysterious mammaries. WTF?

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Yeah, it felt not so great to be consumed with the big “C” while, tra la, the rest of the (Christian) world gorged on chocolate bunnies and spiral sliced hams. Monday in the office felt like a month of Mondays and Tuesday morning after 90 minutes of getting my girls slammed, scanned and prodded by three different people wearing white coats (nasty flashbacks of IVF clinics all the while dancing in my head while I prepared for the bad news), I learned that unlike IVF I flunked all the tests but passed the final.

Then, there’s this whole virus thing. Nothing like a little cancer scare and pandemic threat to grab you by the throat and remind you that life is actually quite fragile, and we humans who think we are large and in charge — not so much.

Here’s the strange thing. As an infertile, I was eerily calm about getting what looked like assuredly bad news from the imaging center, and, more recently still, I’ve been quite un-agitated contemplating the worst of the virus thing. This morning brushing my teeth I realized why I’m so whatever.  Losing my breasts or losing my life just doesn’t scare me the way it once might have.

Why? I already know what it means to see my body as mangled and broken. My boobs are ornamental — always have been, always will be since the mammary glands that lie within have been and always will be dormant.

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And the grim reaper thing? Not stressed in the least. Why doesn’t death scare me?

Simple.  I’ve already been dead once. Worse still, I lived dead among the living with no hope, no feeling, no future.

Fortunately, after being dead I found my way back to the living. So, here in the wee hours of May with my boobs intact and my body virus free (at least that I know of), I’m happy just to be …. not stuck in the past, not fretting about the future. I just am.

(I’ve also been extraordinarily busy at work, so I apologize for the lack of visits/comments on your blogs…I hope that May brings a few moments of peace and quiet here and there so I can catch up.)


14 Responses

  1. Erica

    May 1, 2009 11:49 am

    Sending you a big congratulatory hug on the release of your book. I have to order my copy and sooo looking forward to reading it as you are an exceptional writer. So glad you had only a scare but sorry you went through that. Take care and have a nice weekend basking in the glory of being published!!

  2. loribeth

    May 1, 2009 12:08 pm

    Yikes, Pamela, talk about stress! — not being a Twitterer (Tweeter?), I had no idea about your mammo scare. Not fun… but glad it ultimately turned out OK. I also hear you on the swine flu… riding a commuter train & spending my work day among thousands of people (& all their germs) has got me washing my hands & carrying Purell wherever I go.

    Had I known it would come autographed, I would have ordered my copy of your book through your site & not Amazon. Oh well, perhaps I can get mine signed personally some day. : )

  3. jill

    May 1, 2009 1:58 pm

    So happy to hear you made it through your cancer scare without cancer. I enjoyed reading this post – I can relate to a lot of it.

  4. Kelly D

    May 1, 2009 4:24 pm

    So glad that the breast cancer was just a scare. I can appreciate your reaction to it…
    Looking forward to getting a copy of Silent Sorority! Congrats.

  5. Deathstar

    May 1, 2009 6:36 pm

    I sincerely believe that I too have “died” once. It was a good thing, really, I was on life support for years trying to rally back and kept having relapses. Dodging the cancer bullet is nothing to sneeze at, no more drama needed here.

  6. Beth

    May 1, 2009 6:48 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad to hear that you’re healthy. That must have been scary. I totally identified with your obtuse ambivalence regarding your own health. And when you said that you’ve already died once and lived among the living, I understand where you’re coming from and have often felt the same. I think most infertiles are waiting for the other shoe to drop with a diagnosis of ovarian or uterine cancer as a final smack in the ass.

    Or that all encompassing feeling that our lives just don’t matter anymore. As I cheer for your optimism and happiness Pamela Jeanne, I owe it to myself to cheer for my own as well. It’s funny how we want to comfort others but find it hard to do it for ourselves.
    Congratulations on the book, I can’t wait to read it!!

  7. lynn

    May 1, 2009 8:00 pm

    Interesting post. I feel the same way, like the worst thing already happened to me so everything else is a cake walk. We went though the torture of 5 years of failed treatment, I can get through anything. After 5 years I was left without a child, but stronger than I possibly could have imagined.

  8. annacyclopedia

    May 1, 2009 8:10 pm

    This post stilled me in the midst of a busy and grumpy day. I am beyond grateful that you fought your way back to triumph among the living, and so glad for your presence in my life and for your continued good health. Thank you, PJ.

  9. B writes

    May 1, 2009 10:49 pm

    That’s very interesting PJ.

    I’ve felt for a long time that I have not been afraid of death – maybe afraid of dying – but not of death. There was something about holding Maya as she died and those moments after, that was so pure and good and peaceful. Yep. The shit came after that, making room for such enormous separation in your life – but death, the moment of it, was …… I can’t give it words …..

    I think Ms PJ that you are showing yourself how truly free you are. You have faced the worst of your fears and life doesn’t have all that much more to throw at you. Or, you’ve got the ammo you need for whatever life may throw at you. You are free-er than most people in the world.

  10. LaLa

    May 2, 2009 8:18 pm

    I am so very glad that your cancer scare was just a scare.

    You’ve had more than your fair share of hardships in your life, the “powers that be” owe you a healthy, happy and long life with your hubby… and I sincerely hope you get it.

  11. Irish Girl

    May 3, 2009 1:34 pm

    The strength gained via infertility is quite useful in many-a-situation, isn’t it?! Perspective, perspective, perspective. I’m glad to hear it came to good use during this recent scare … hugely glad it was just a scare. Life can lay off of you with the tormenting, though, don’t you agree? 🙂 Hope all is well, despite the busy-ness at work, etc.

  12. luna

    May 5, 2009 6:23 am

    “I’ve already been dead once. Worse still, I lived dead among the living with no hope, no feeling, no future.”

    ain’t that the truth, sister.

    so glad your scare was nothing serious. those are scary moments though.

    still trying to work out my paypal issue, or I might just have to send you a check for the book!

  13. Sweetpea

    May 15, 2009 1:23 pm

    Wow how I can relate to you in this post. I know exactly how you feel/felt. Going about your life after major crisis, fear, and repeated heartbreak is a strange thing… puts things into a different perspective.

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