|This marvelous poster was made by a talented artist at my place of work to advertise within my place of work.|
Oh my goodness I felt like I was doing a live sketch of a Lifetime original movie, complete with moist, red eyes in the audience. It was also a lecture in Coping with Crap 101.
In the days before the presentation I was really nervous. My scientific colleagues can attest that I no longer get very nervous before a typical public speaking event. This, however, was oh so different.
This presentation was so personal, and I didn't really know what details people would want to know about. With science I can find a punchline, and people will learn what I want them to learn. In presenting my journey through breast cancer, I didn't want to presume that I was the only one in the universe to have taken this journey, but I also wanted to educate the young people who might have no clue what goes on with cancer treatment. Turns out that's a fine line to walk.
So, I tried to keep it a tad bit scientific. This is of course what I know how to do. My nurse presented first and laid the groundwork for the different types of cancers and what the details mean. When it was my turn, I framed what I was going to tell them as a breast cancer case study in the context of what my nurse taught them. I tried to step away from myself, otherwise I was sure to sob my way through it.
But sob I most certainly did NOT! I even snuck in a few jokes, which was easy considering I chose to include such delightful cancer bonuses as the sinus UFO and my original displeasure with the port. I did get choked up at times, mostly when I thought of my own mortality or everything my loved ones did for me throughout the ordeal, but I was able to power through. Also, a new thing for me was to include "readings" in my presentation, and these were from my blog. Wow was it handy to have this treasure trove of insights in real-time. I chose five portions of posts that I thought were salient thoughts from a given time, and I read them aloud at relevant points in my presentation of slides. (Thank you, Martha, for inviting me to read at your wedding so that I could gain some experience in the public reading department.)
When it was my turn to present, my nerves were totally silent. That's standard for me. My nerves just know that there's no turning back now, so why be that person with the jittery laser pointer? May as well calm down and save some face.
Afterwards, however, the nerves spiced up again. For many hours I couldn't figure this out, because after a presentation is over I should be overcome with relief. But here's what I've figured out: the presentation made me re-confront the gravity of my former disease. On an ordinary day in my marvelous life, I spend exactly zero seconds thinking about 40% chance of blah blah blah in 2 years, only 40% median blahsey blah in 5 years. But that dang presentation made me think about all of those horrible, horrible statistics, and to realize that year number one is already over (happy cancerversary to me, today in fact). Needless to say it took me until bedtime last night, with some furious playing and crocheting in between, to get a grip on my heartbeat.
Speaking of my nervous heart, I have a PET scan tomorrow. Yay if it comes out clean, boo if it doesn't. I won't know the results right away, but I'll post them as soon as possible. We are hoping: T9 is still clean, that a certain 7mm node in my left lung has mysteriously disappeared, and that there is NOTHING NEW. Geez I hate PET scans.