Hey ILC, get fu@ked!
Long time, no see!
It’s been more than two years since you left. Well, I say ‘left’ like it was you who chose to leave but we both know that I called it quits.
You were such a sneaky lil’ fucker. I don’t know how long you were lurking inside me. I couldn’t feel or see you; I didn’t feel or look sick. I had no clue that you were stalking me, silently spreading through my right breast. It took an intervention by professionals to see through you and root you out.
It was a messy break up. Painful too. As an invasive lobular cancer you lacked the adhesion protein that can help form a tumour, but you’d still managed to get pretty fucking attached to me.
I had to poison, slash and burn my body to get rid of you. It had to be done, though, because you would have killed me otherwise.
Despite that, I’ve never hated you. I know it’s a bit of a ‘Dear John’ cliché, but I really do mean it when I say: it’s not you, it’s me. Because you are (were) me.
Not the best of me but me, nonetheless. Uncontrollable, hyperactive iddy-biddy bits of me with genetic misspellings that meant you didn’t know when to stop. You were like cellular bits of me on speed, if speed were oestrogen. Cos you loved a bit of ER – you were mad for it!
It’s tempting to blame myself for enabling you as I fed your hormone habit, revving you into replication. However, I’m not into self-blame-shaming.
I don’t blame you either. You can’t help what you became. I simply wasn’t prepared to share my body with a malignant molecule molester whose insatiable spread would kill me, so you had to go. I’m not mad, I’m disappointed.
And while I don’t hate you, I do hate what exorcising you has done to me.
I’m physically inscribed by excision, incision and radiation burns. Mentally I’m undone by the fog of chemotherapy, medical menopause and the general fuckedness of a cancer diagnosis.
I don’t see these as battle scars: I’ve never been at war with my body or let a surgeon attack it. They’re life scars. The necessary collateral damage from saving myself from you/me. And it’s never been a fight. I nurtured my body and cheered it on as it cleaned out the chemo toxins, healed the surgical wounds and repaired the irradiated skin.
As with any relationship worth writing about, it’s complicated. I knew you were bad for me, yet I grieved when the tissue you had burrowed into was cut off.
I was distraught to think of my breast alone, detached from the mothership; labelled biohazard waste and chucked into a surgical bin ready for incineration, or whatever they do with amputated body parts.
I had to make tough decisions. You could say it was you or me. But it was us. I chose to sacrifice a part of us so that I could carry on being me; carry on being.
And now I look to other parts of my body to be recycled to fill the hole you left. My abdominal tissue has been transferred to my chest to reconstruct a new breast. Transplanted skin will be stitched origami-style to make a nipple. But it’s not the same. I don’t have the feelings that I had before. In fact, there’s no feelings at all where you used to be: I feel numb.
You’ve left your mark emotionally, though. I’m utterly heartbroken by what happened between us. Devastated. I mourn the carefreeness of life before I learnt of your existential threat. But I’d much rather have known about you than not. Because if you’d carried on rifling through my body unchecked there would be no me.
And while it can feel that my future has been unwritten by you, it’s just been re-written.
So, this isn’t a Fuck You letter.
It’s more of a Get Fucked – and Stay Fucked – letter.
‘Cause, we are never ever getting back together.