pathology and belonging

The pathology report….drum roll, please….all clear. All 9 nodes negative. After leaving 3 messages for the surgeon this week, she finally called to read the report that was sitting in her inbox since Monday. Frustrating, to say the least, but also a great relief. The size and nature of the tumor (HER2, ER/PR positive) make this cancer more aggressive, but because it’s not in the lymph nodes, it’s treatable.

With the actual tumor gone, I’m not quite sure how to describe my situation, especially given my difficulty with holding the idea of dis-ease in my body. I continue to recognize that I am not this cancer; that this experience is my journey and that the scars across my chest are my own reminder of where I’ve been. But does that mean I can now join the ranks of those women who carry the bold title of “survivor”, or do I have to wait until my head is free of my wiry hair and I have had chemicals pumped into my bloodstream? I feel lost in this period between surgery and chemo which feels like an in-between place in which I am empty of belonging, and free to pretend that I am merely healing from surgery. I suppose it helps that I feel fierce and fabulous,¬†and that my flexibility is returning in recognizable daily ways. It also helps that I continue to receive strong embraces from people unafraid to hold my new frame and calls and emails as reminders that I am not alone as I traverse a new, foreign terrain.