At Least It’s Not…

“Thank God you don’t have to have chemotherapy.”

“Thank God you didn’t have to have a mastectomy.”

“At least it’s not more serious.”

How many times have I heard these sentiments, albeit well-meaning? How many times did I utter them to myself?

I wake up at 2 AM, my body is slick with sweat. I’ve kicked the covers so many times that they’re in a knot at the foot of the bed. My head aches and I have a tremendous urge to pee. Do I? Do I just need to move my body? Get out of this lava pit of a bed?

I swing my legs to the ground. I have to use my hands to assist because my hips are locked, rusty, dry. My belly is distended, round, full. I don’t recognize these parts of me.

There was a time when I would teach three yoga classes a day, bike to and from the studio, and be up for a hike after dinner.

Those days are a dim memory in my dusty body.

There was a time when I would nudge my husband in the morning, hungry with the anticipation of intimacy. Daily, sometimes twice a day.

Now I’m filled with sandpaper, grit, dust, rust.

“At least it’s hasn’t metastasized.”

“It could be worse.”

“You’re so lucky.”

I rehearse these phrases in my head as I stumble my way to the bathroom, my knees wheezing in pain. My feet like two lumps of concrete.

This past weekend I sat in a support group with other breast cancer “survivors”. Bald, bloated beauties who stoically talked about their chemotherapy injections, their concerns about pregnancy, their stage 4 diagnosis.

“At least you’re not going through that.”

“Thank your lucky stars.”

“Thank God you caught it early.”

Disruption. I have been disrupted. My bright, buoyant soul has been anchored into the mire of cancer treatment. Where I was once mobile, I am now stuck. Where I was once light, I am now heavy.

“Your boobs look great!”

“They did a great job with the reconstruction!”

“What a wonderful side effect!”

I heave myself back into bed, next to my sleeping husband. My sweet, supportive, sleeping husband. He looks so peaceful.

I try not to look at the clock. I put on my sleeping mask to tempt my body back to slumber. I try to still my mind from the anxiety of when I will wake up again.

I fall back into a tormented sleep.

“At least I can sleep.”