004: Keep my issues drawn

It took me a week but it finally I happened. Last night I went to dinner and ran errands for my trip to Florida next week with a girlfriend. She already knew about my mom. She was the first I told.

Lizzy.

We’ve been friends for 10.5 years and have always been close, best friends. She’s incredible and has a life that will blow anyone’s mind in the most unfortunate ways. It took most of her life, but the daily routine’s behind closed doors at her family’s house finally caught up to her. She’s an incredible person who deserves so much more than what she has.

We sat at dinner celebrating her birthday (belated) and began to catch up. She knew about my mom, but she asked anyway. It was like she knew I had to talk about it. Now my boyfriend and three friends knew, and frankly, I wanted to keep it that way. I don’t want to advertise this. A blog is shared with strangers. It’s safe. It’s private to those in my private life.

I hadn’t cried. Then I returned home last night. I went into my mom’s room. Dad built a book shelf for her, so she gave me an old night table of her’s I’d been obsessed with for months. I saw the mannequin head with her wig resting on top of it next to her bed. Cancer books were slowly accumulating on her shelf. My mom caught me staring at them and cheerfully shared that friends had given them to her. I smiled and looked at her left breast, her good breast. It had tape and gauze covering it, blue chalk strewn across her chest and around her neck, a port in the center. I asked her how she was feeling and told her I had shared our news with my boyfriend, Matt, and two girlfriends.

“Did you tell them I’m going to be fine?” She asked me. I turned away from her and said I never got that far. I told her that I told them I mostly had a lot of questions, that it was too hard to understand.

Meanwhile, I’ve been texting my sister, Mere, and e-mailing Matt questions pertaining to the research I find.

The things I’ve learned? Nothing good.

  • IBC is the deadliest and rarest form of Breast Cancer
  • it forms in sheets and nests in the lymphatic system of the skin, appearing only after it clogs the lymph system with cancer, causing the skin to swell and turn red as if in anger. Lumps aren’t the only symptom for cancer. Educate yourself
  • Survival rates for women diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer are grim. 25 to 50 percent of women will survive five years. Two years ago, it was 1-2%.
  • 90% of women will suffer a recurrence of this rare cancer.

After I spent a few minutes with my mom, I retired to my room. I broke down crying.<

This morning I picked a fight with my boyfriend. I can’t have him around if he won’t stay around for this entire year. It’s going to be such a long year. I cried twice this morning. It was like an episode of “Mad Men” crying in a stall quietly with my head in my hands. My eyes never stopped watering at my desk, my skin turned blotchy, and I felt sadness. No anger, no frustration, just sadness.

I wasn’t planning on taking a lunch, but I knew it was best to let it out. I walked to my car, tears building as I crossed the parking lots and entered the parking garage. I climbed into the back seat of my car, pulled a blanket over me, and sobbed. I cried and cried and cried, trying to push all of it out of me so I could get through the rest of the day. I curled up in a ball and cried more. My eyes stung, my face felt puffy, but I continued. I hadn’t cried like this in over a year.

What was wrong with me? I wasn’t a crier period.

It was all too overwhelming. I feel like my world is falling apart and that my mom is dying. I’m 25 years old, what kind of sick joke was this?

When I felt I was finished, I collected my things, threw the blanket off of me, and walked back into the building. I spent the rest of the afternoon watery-eyed and avoiding the Internet’s availability of cancerous facts and contradicting information.

That’s what Matt told me. This cancer is so rare that all information will contradict each other, because we don’t know enough about Inflammatory Breast Cancer to have real statistics– minus the morbid ones, which I am overflowing with.

I cried on the way home. I had to get it out of my system for my mom. I have to be strong for her, because she’s been so strong through all of this.

It’s been a week and two days since my mom told me she had Stage 3B Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Chemotherapy begins tomorrow. I could handle a miracle.

If anyone asks
I’ll tell them we both just moved on
When people all stare
I’ll pretend that I don’t hear them talk
Whenever I see you I’ll swallow my pride and bite my tongue
Pretend I’m okay with it all
Act like there’s nothing wrong[Chorus]
Is it over yet
Can I open my eyes
Is this as hard as it gets
Is this what it feels like to really cry
CryIf anyone asks
I’ll tell them we just grew apart
What do I care if they believe me or not
Whenever I feel your memory is breaking my heart
I’ll pretend I’m okay with it all
Act like there’s nothing wrong[Chorus]I’m talking in circles
I’m lying, they know it
Why won’t this just all go away

[Chorus]

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