His eyes were deep blue, penetrative and thoughtful. He had more than one look: a magnetic laughing gaze, and a straight one. Both showed simplicity, both were shy. His fire was controlled, yet I could feel the flames warming me up. His touch was soft and gentle, with hands so strong. His posture was committed, to me, yet at times he seemed elsewhere, perhaps thinking of me and what it would be like to feel close to someone again. To feel, to touch, to be intimate.
It was a first date, yet felt like the fifth. Besotted with our young daughters, we spoke, we laughed, perhaps too heartily. Drifting away into the 'future' was tense, it was apprehensive, where was this taking me? Was he thinking the same? In a strange way I felt it. A marathon runner, he could beat me, run into the future faster and anticipate, with legs that run like the wind. Yet, I was stuck, scared to run fast. Scared to catch up with him. I could run, yes, but my routine would suffice. I would know where I was running to, and how I could come back to where I had begun the race: my diagnosis, three years ago. The beginning of the end of the life I had, a carefree life, a proud life, a disease free life. A life with no 'all clears', 'no chemotherapy', and no fear of recurrence. A sexual life, a full on firey life.
The halt of the roller coaster to become. I am strong, I kept telling myself. Yet my weakness gave way, into silence, into shyness, sinking down into the table, thinking of the when, the how, and the how much: about the breast cancer bomb. About the vulnerability. About the scars. My bra will protect. Future children were not in sight, my child and his will protect. About the strength. About my resilience: look how far I've travelled, yet still going strong, blindly, yet aware of the possible consequences awaiting me. I felt the urge to kiss him to hold him in my arms and to squeeze his body over mine. Perhaps it will be once and for all. The end of the beginning.
This fire so strong, where was it coming from? Never had I felt this fire in a long time, longer than my new life post breast cancer diagnosis. How can this be?
When IS the right time to drop the breast cancer bomb? A breast cancer diagnosis can shatter relationships and put younger children at risk of vulnerability. For a woman who is encouraged to 'move on' a simple track does not exist. It takes time, years more appropriately, to be able to feel what you once did, or the memory of the return. The scars, the limitations, the menopause, tamoxifen side effects, and the agony, that fear of recurrence, that you may, just may, end up inflicting on the innocent 'other': is that justified? Yes, it takes two to tango, but what is that they say about love? It is blind, it is dedication, it is commitment: until death do us apart. The end of the beginning.
I began to feel the cold, hugging myself, fearful of lifting my head, in case I would have to search for him. I was back to my diagnosis, and he had ran faster than I. He had beaten me to it. 'I will delete you Naz, because I do not want to hurt you', the memory of what I have left, and more. It is hidden, with the many others, who did not want to hurt me.
Professor Nazanin Derakhshan is Director of the Centre for Building Resilience in Breast Cancer