My eyebrows have grown back — and it happened quickly. One morning, while washing up in the bathroom, I noticed a five-o’clock shadow where my brows used to be, and the next day, hello Groucho Marx.
After weathering a breast cancer diagnosis, double mastectomy, four-and-a-half
months of chemo, and 23 radiation treatments (only five more to go!), I’m sure
you think bemoaning my furry eyebrows is ridiculous.
You’d have a point, but I don’t care. Because these things that have sprouted
across my brow bone do not belong to me. They are slate gray, thick and sharply
arched. They are angry eyebrows (think Uncle Leo in “Seinfeld”), not at all the
way they were before.
Strangely, as I crawl out of the breast cancer trench, everything else in my world
is exactly as it was before. I returned part time to my job, the kids began
another year of school, there’s homework, soccer and volleyball games, Thursday
night dinners at my mother-in-law’s and a dirt patch in my backyard that will
one day be a lovely patio.
But I’m not the same. Cancer sucked me out of my life and into a deep pit. In the pit, my breasts were ripped off and I was poisoned for months. I spent my time developing ways to cope with the darkness and scariness. I used every resource within to stay strong, find calm and look for light.
Now, inserting myself back into the space-time continuum, I’m completely out of sorts. The things I experienced and learned in the trench are not needed for driving carpool, making dinner and helping with math. The cancer card is barely applicable anymore, though it still works on my husband (honey, I’m getting irradiated every morning — I think you should be able to make dinner tonight). And it’s no longer all about me. Gasp! I’m going to have to start thinking about others again.
It’s almost as if cancer never struck. But here’s how I know it did.
The other day I sat in traffic on my way to work. I was late for a meeting, and
several pressing tasks awaited me. Granted, I did curse all the morons cutting
into my lane, but I rode out the jam without allowing it to elevate my blood
pressure or induce a migraine.
I remained completely unruffled, even while a man in a green sedan swerved
dangerously close to me waving a fist and blasting his horn.
I won’t expend energy worrying about traffic, or being late for work when it can’t be helped, or rude people or a cancer recurrence for that matter. The more you focus on circumstances you can’t control, the more you miss out on those you can, like switching the radio station and singing along to Katie Perry’s “Firework.”
I know this now. An inner quiet has replaced a lot of noise; peace occupies a space where restlessness used to reside. I can’t command the way my eyebrows will curve, though I suppose I can wax and tweeze them into submission. Nah, I think I’ll let them be so they can serve as a reminder.