BCA: Personal Stories

Jeanne Borden


Submitting myself for treatment must be how a mother feels sending her son off to war-- not knowing if he will return safely to her just the way he is now, well and happy--but what will the war take out of him, from him, that cannot be replaced--will he die along the way, never to return home again to the safety of her love and care? I am not sick today, I feel mostly fine except for the ache in my heart about my illness--the emotional roller coaster of what treatment to take, where to get the treatment, and how sick it will make me feel, and of course insurance problems abound. But still I am well, I think, and I think again and realize I am very sick with a life threatening disease and I must make myself sicker with toxic medicines and I.V. drips of burning chemicals in order to really be well again. Like the soldier, what will this all take out of me that I can't replace--will I die along the way? People do die from this, but today I promise myself that I won't and that I can be cured--I must believe that for now!

Today I am told I will not have to lose my breast and for that I am grateful. Thankful, unless the treatment doesn't work and then what, and so on and so on the dominoes fall creating new patterns of existence or nonexistence and what good is a breast without a life; and on and on this goes until I could scream. I touch my skin and wonder how could I live without a part of myself. I can't make this all OK, not today anyway, but I'm told people do come to terms with this part too; but they are stronger, they are more, they always were. I have always been the cute one, soft, gentle, kind, and loving, the one people thought it easy to take advantage of and they have sometimes, because I loved them and let them and yes, I have even mistaken wolves in sheep's clothing. I don't think I have been much more than this not yet, that is until now. I still feel that one has to be much more than what I am to make it through all the varying scenarios of this illness. No, those who make it through must be more than I am. They have to be!

But whom am I fooling? We are all just people, women trapped and trying our hardest to make it OK somehow no matter how insurmountable it all seems. Oh God, today I pray I may be spared the agony of the loss of part of my physical self; that will never be OK with me, and today I am spared. Thank you, God, and THANK YOU to those who have gone before and endured the experience of all I have described and fear most! YOU have touched me with your aliveness, your wellness, your love and hope. YOU are an inspiration to me to move forward, take the medicine, move on and live and give hope to those who will follow and join our increasing ranks of diverse treatment protocols. You are all the living proof our mission can be accomplished, and today I join forces with you and we now march side by side.

So to begin my journey with you, today I accept the challenge of submitting myself for treatment to save my own life. I must submit to treatment like the soldier sacrifices his life for life. I must sacrifice my life as I know if for the ability to continue my life. I must also remember that sometimes soldiers come back from war having learned from their experiences and therefore become deeper, more compassionate, more open and caring people; always they are different people than they were before the war. The are forever changed and so are we in this process of getting well.

I hope this will be my experience--for now, I am the soldier saying goodbye to those who cannot join me in the battle, and for now I pray I can return and live on trying to make sense of this time in my life as something that not only made me better but made me a better person too. I am heartened knowing those who went before me take me by the hand into this unknown war. The passageway is lit now, we have only to follow those in the lead.

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