Dear 37 year-old body,
There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to blurt it out and hope you understand.
We’ve been through a lot over the years, you and I. We’ve spent an incredible amount of time in each other’s company and we know each other more intimately than anyone on this planet. You and I have forged secrets I’d never tell another soul, and at this point we should really be planning to grow old and grey together, but…well…lately I’ve had a change of heart.
I want a fresh start.
Let me try to explain.
You see, body, after nearly 38 long years together, I thought we were tight. I thought I knew you and all your silly little secrets inside out.
Who else knows just how extreme your love of liquorice is, or how often you sneak spoonfuls of Nutella straight from the jar? Who else knows about that funky toenail on your right foot that’s been NQR since Taiwan days, or about the time you stacked it on Swanston Street because you were too busy trying to sashay like a runway model while gawking at your own reflection in a shop window?
Seriously…you’re such a goose!
Who else knows about your weird duck-like proportions, your below-average pelvic floor or the fact that you can still run 100 metres really fast? Who else has come to realise that eating apples while you drive makes you queasy, that your nose is pretty much permanently runny, or that red wine makes you wheeze but you drink it anyway?
What about your obsession with buying books but never finishing them, your ridiculous phone phobia, your fears of flying, of being late, and of finding friends at school pick-up time? Who knows all that – and more – about little old you?
Yeah – Me.
I have come to know all your weird and wonderful idiosyncrasies so closely over the years, that I thought we were an unbreakable team. Silly me thought we had a sort of unwritten pact! I know we never drafted anything legally binding per se, but surely there was some sort of agreement to look out for each other? I know I’ve tried really hard to feed you decent food, run you around a little here and there, rest when you feel tired and get you checked when you’re sore or feeling off-colour. In turn, body, you’re supposed to keep me going, keep me doing all the things I love to do, keep me happy, healthy and strong! Isn’t that the deal?
So I’m a little peeved, quite frankly, to find myself at the tender age of 37, dealing with cancer. What’s with that?!
How could you do this to me? How could you let down your defences and fail me like this? How could you let something so sinister come between us? We didn’t have any prior history of breast cancer! We didn’t have any overt risk factors! Hell, you didn’t even give me the benefit of a proper warning! Some friend you are.
I just don’t know if we can resurrect the lost trust. How will I ever be able to depend on you again? You’ve let me down, body. I’m shattered.
Added to all that is the fact that these days, you’re kind of getting on my nerves.
I think it’s time I upgraded my model and got a brand new, healthy version of ‘you’ to carry me forward in this life. I’ve had it up to here with you and your tired, aching, menopausal, disease-ridden excuse for a body!
I want breasts that feel like proper breasts and an endocrine system in sync with my age. I want to run again like we used to, swim freestyle in the fast lane, and laugh so hard I spray mouthfuls of tea everywhere. I want to go about my days in blissful ignorance, be able to take you for granted all over again and live without any fear.
I want to be able to look at my children without wondering whether I’ll get to see them grow up. I want to stop wondering which little slapper will want to snap up my husband once I am gone…
Look what you have turned me into?! An angst-ridden, catastrophist who is pre-empting her premature death! THIS IS NOT NORMAL BEHAVIOUR, BODY!
I want to look in the mirror and see something that resembles the young woman I am, not a scar-ravaged alien-like being with no body hair! You don’t even have eyebrows anymore! Do you know how seriously weird you look?
I want to put deodorant on you every morning without worrying about parabens, sip mugs of coffee and glasses of wine without fretting over carcinogens. I want to enjoy food the way it’s meant to taste, and not the residual metallic flavour that seems to have hijacked my tastebuds and taken up residence on my tongue.
I want to live again!
What I don’t want are osteoporotic bones and a potentially weakened heart from chemo. I don’t want a pallid, puffy face and the ridiculous bald pate of a ninety year-old man. I don’t want the constant threat of lymphedema in your arm or the peripheral neuropathy that’s developing in your fingers. I don’t want the constant tiredness, or the anxiety that shadows every ache or pain or lump.
You’re a total disaster zone!
The problem is, body, there are no trade-ins in this life. Even if I wanted to, I could never be rid of you. We are in this life, together, whether we like it or not, and while you have more than your fair share of foibles at present, I hope to be in this life – with you – for a very long haul.
Just stop trying to kill me, ok?
If you’d like to read my body’s right of reply to this letter, click here!