The little things

I am trussed like a turkey: First the jog bra, then about three windings of a 6-inch Ace bandage. The lack of jiggle is nice given the soreness and swelling in that left breast. But oh, it is hot. “San Francisco summer” has come upon us. The fog is gone. It is 75 degrees at the beach, 80-85 downtown. That doesn’t sound hot to people outside the Bay Area. But this is San Francisco, there is no air conditioning. And I am wrapped up in essentially four layers of very snug underwear, popping Vicodin.

The doc says give it three days, then emails that the “tincture of time” is the hardest medicine to take. I love that turn of phrase. I love that my surgeon studied literature before she went to med school. By this afternoon, I am really done with the tincture of time, though. I decide to throw off my shackles, unwind my Ace bandage.

It feels delicious. The granny bra feels downright liberating, even daring. And it all reminds me that it’s the little things that make a life.

Update: About an hour after I write this post, I realize that even though the swelling is down and the bruising color show is more muted, I still need the Ace bandage. It’s still the little things that make a life. It just depends on which little things are most important in the moment. Is it freedom and coolness, or is it lack of jiggle?


About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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