Monday, August 10, 2015

A Year Has Passed

It's been one year since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The past year has been a thrill ride with many peaks and valleys. Although it was difficult, I'm not sorry I have gone through this experience.

I spent most of July 2014 in a whirlwind of tests. First came my routine mammogram; then a second-look mammogram; then an ultrasound, and biopsy. Finally the phone call from my doctor came. "Are you somewhere you can talk?" she asked me. That's never good.

Breast cancer is a difficult disease. It strikes us on a part of our bodies that is uniquely feminine. It is fueled by the hormones that make us women and mothers. As one friend put it, "It messes with your head." So I had much to reflect upon as this one-year anniversary approached.




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Fear

I was afraid of a lot of things - dying, pain, sickness, being unable to be present in the lives of my friends and family. I faced down a lot of them and have come out the other side. After you've had cancer, it hard not to be fearful and mistrustful of your body. There are days when I worry about every little ache and pain. But I now know how resilient my body and mind are.

Friends

Where would I be without them? On my last day of work before my leave of absence, my colleagues (all of them women) gave me a surprise lunch. During lunch they gave me several gifts - a beautiful shawl, a soft pink bear, and an assortment of teas. The shawl was like having their arms around me. The bear caught a few teardrops, and the tea sustained me when eating was difficult. Because of their kindness, I was able to embark on my journey with a light heart.

"Breast cancer strikes us on a part of our bodies that is uniquely feminine. It is fueled by the hormones that make us women and mothers."

Then there are my church friends. Our family is part of an Episcopalian community. The prayers for me were palpable. The day before my surgery I attended our Sunday service. They gave me a laying-on of hands to bless me 24 hours before my surgery began. The morning of my surgery, I awoke early and checked Facebook. There Amy, one of my church friends, and her young daughter posted a picture of them wearing pink sweatshirts in my honor. Throughout the day, church members posted to my husband and me that prayers were ascending. During my recovery, home visits were made, communion offered, and meals delivered.

Another friend, who is an executive for a major hospital, stepped in when I had to change doctors and facilities. I was unable to see ahead. She solved all my problems before the end of that difficult day.

Family

You can read about my husband's support by clicking here. We are fortunate to have a close relationship. The rest of the family rallied behind me. My two young nieces posted a picture on Facebook in pink t-shirts
to let me know they were thinking of me. My mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, and cousin went to work stocking my refrigerator and freezer with meals for the next month. My house was kept clean. All I needed to worry about was getting better.

Ultimately, I have had to arrive at a peaceful place. I can't live in fear, but I have to live in reality. One day I will die. I don't know when. I don't know if cancer will take me. Today, I am alive and healthy. I wish you all good health!

You can read more about my experience with breast cancer by clicking on the topics in the sidebar.