Breast Cancer, Cancer

I Got You

My face is in the doughnut. You know the one. When you are face-down on the massage table and your sinuses decide you don’t need to breathe through your nose.

She says “I got you”.

It hits me hard.

I burst into tears, sniffling like crazy as I try to keep the snot from cascading to the floor.

“Are you alright?” she asks.

“Yes,” then nonchalantly add “I’m just crying”.

She doesn’t know it, but those three little words plunge me into a big, fluffy cloud. 

I got you

I feel comfort. I feel safe. I feel warm.

I am at one of those fancy-dancy spas most of us drool over while watching some reality TV show about people with too much money and time on their hands.

I am more than grateful and extremely happy to be here. It is a gift from a friend I have known since the 4th grade. She has treated me and two other childhood girlfriends to this experience.

Nicole, the massage therapist, has warmly greeted me as I explain my recent medical and physical history with breast cancer. I am nervous to have my first massage in what feels like a century.

When I express my hesitation while lying prone on the table, she hands me a pillow to put under my still tender chest. It does the trick. She then expertly puts my body in what feels like suspended  animation. 

I let go of everything. It is at this point I tell her my fears and my physical concerns. It is when she says “I got you.”

She has no idea the impact she, a total stranger, has made on me. 

That was three weeks ago. Since then I have struggled with a million things that have impacted my mental health. It’s been a cocktail, both shaken and stirred. 

It’s news that a close family member’s cancer has returned. It has my own breast cancer shadow learing over my shoulder, taunting me with “you’re next”. 

It’s my disappointment with a pandemic that won’t end, and still scared even though I am vaccinated and wear a mask. 

It’s feeling lonely. 

It’s depression that developed in the wake of breast cancer. 

It’s feeling like crap more than not.

It’s everything and nothing. And so much more.

I broke down this week. Again. But this time, I did something I rarely do. 

I said to everyone: “I am not okay today. But I know I will be”. 

By reaching out, I was, as one person put it, “loved, seen and held” by those around me.

The Facebook messages, the text messages and the phone calls that have all come in this week all have the same message in the end. It was each person saying to me, in their own way, “I got you”.

It’s easy to feel isolated. It’s easy to figure no one else will care about whatever darkness you are swimming in. The world we are in and the lives we lead sometimes triggers anxiety, stress, depression, hopelessness. 

We spend too much time telling people we are ‘fine’ when we are not. When people ask, tell them. Be honest. If they care to ask, then care enough about yourself to say “I am not okay today”. 

(Of course I am not going to unload on the checker at the grocery store when they ask how I am doing. I will stick with the ol’ standard “Good. How are you?”. Obviously I don’t need to give a total stranger my current checklist of internal boxing matches.)

Reach out. 

Say you are not okay, but know you will be.

Remember: If you are struggling, you are not alone.

I got you