Most of the time, I feel like I’m not doing enough. It’s not enough that I’m (mostly) kicking ass at work, or that I’m maintaining a functional, healthy (if currently long-distance) relationship, or that I’m there when I’m needed. I still know, every single day, that I have potential I’m not reaching.
I’ve always known. I’ve had people (only a few, but people all the same) comment on it, telling me they saw it too. And yet I still continue with this day-to-day minutiae, working and watching TV and sometimes being hit in full force with the idea that I could be doing so much more.
Most of the time, lately, it’s centered around BRCA. It’s not something I’ve written much about lately – and lord knows the days of crying all evening and wanting to die have, somehow, faded into the past – but it still lingers at the back of my mind. Sometimes, unexpectedly, I’ll be hit with the truth: any time, any day, any minute, I could be diagnosed with cancer. I could find a lump. I could receive abnormal results on a mammogram or MRI. My (somewhat surprising) decision to hold off on surgery for awhile and stick with increased surveillance means that every day I’m at risk.
And somehow, I feel that having made that “decision” (which I put in quotation marks because I don’t look at it as a decision. It’s a temporary fix until I move forward with my real decision, surgery) is akin to doing nothing. Who am I to empathize with others, to offer counsel, to do much of anything when I’m choosing to, essentially, look the other way and do nothing?
I know it’s not that simple. I know that a bilateral mastectomy at twenty-five isn’t something I should do, per se (and did you know that there are those who believe “should” is the most evil word in the English language? Sometimes I really, really agree). It’s a choice many BRCA+ women make, yes, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s not what was recommended to me by my breast and ovarian cancer prevention team. It’s not something I’m ready to do.
But where does that leave me? I have no story to tell yet. I have no real help to offer, other than advice on how to handle those first initial weeks of shock and devastation and grief (because that’s what it is – grief for a part of your life that is forever changed, grief for the fact that your whole life is forever changed). I can offer hope to women wondering if they’ll find a partner who can accept them and love them even with such a heavy burden resting on them.
But the rest of it? The real strength and courage and forward-moving? I can’t. I’m not there. I see so many other women out there doing so many things: starring in documentaries about their story; writing books chronicling everything they’ve been through; starting foundations to reach out to other women in similar positions; hell, even writing blogs that people actually read. And meanwhile, I’m just going about my life, not changing much of anything – let alone doing anything to change the lives of others.
I’m meant to do more, and there is a part of me that knows without a doubt that somehow this BRCA-ness will play a part in that. I don’t (usually) believe everything happens for a reason, but sometimes I wonder.
I’m meant to do much, much more, and to have much, much more of an impact. I know that I can, I just don’t know how or where to start. I need to stop being down on myself for doing nothing, and start figuring it out.