You have Breast Cancer
On New Year’s Eve 2001, at 1:15pm, the above words were barely out of the mouth of the breast surgeon who had taken 17 biopsies of my lump when my life was forever changed in an instant. A single piece of paper confirmed the pathology of the lump and my life was immediately mapped out by science and not by me. All of the plans I had laid with such good intentions went down the drain in that single moment. My life, my body, my relationships, my future were suddenly not as I’d expected them to be and surprisingly, I was not that surprised.
For you see, I found the lump in November, but between doctor appointments, mammograms and life, the biopsy was not done until the day after Christmas that year. The day after I hosted Christmas dinner with my husband and our families. My last non-cancerous Christmas. And the night before the news was given to me that I had Breast Cancer, I had dreamed that I had it and so when she told me the next day, I wasn’t really surprised. In fact, I was so calm that she told me I was in shock and that I needed to come back the day after New Years so that she could deliver the future plans of how the doctors would proceed in treating me. But I was calm, I knew. I heard everything she said and what hit me most was that I was not going to be able to return to teaching. That’s what stuck in my head. Not the lumpectomy and subsequent double mastectomy, not the ACT type of chemotherapy which makes all of your hair fall out, not the 6 weeks of radiation to follow. Nope, it was that I wouldn’t be finishing out the year in my school. Strange isn’t it what we think when confronted by this type of news?
My life took on a surreal aura after that ~ one that included many tears, much anxiety and a deeper understanding of myself. I had never been the strong type or so I thought, but when confronted with the possibility of not being around for my boys ages 1 and 3, like an angry Mama Tiger I launched into fighting for my life. Most of my family didn’t believe I could endure the journey of what I was about to embark on as I have always been a bit weak with pain. But somehow, knowing that my husband believed I could do it and knowing that he would stand by my side and endure it with me, I was able to conjure up the inner strength needed to live and to supersede all expectations.
It is that priceless gift that my hubby gave me that changed us in an instant as well for this cancer journey hasn’t been easy for either one of us. The patient has a tough time enduring the treatments, but it’s the spouse/significant other/caretaker who is the silent unsung hero. It’s my hubby who knows what goes on after all of the family goes home. It’s HE who holds me when I cry and I’ve just had enough. He’s the one who understands and it’s to him that I look to for strength when mine is depleted. It’s HIS face that I search for when I wake up after every surgery (and I’ve endured 15 so far with more to go).
Life goes on for everyone else after time which is good because who wants to be constantly reminded that you’ve endured Breast Cancer? It’s bad enough to be reminded every morning when I shower and dress or when I have to be tested every 6 months or when I have health complications from it. Breast Cancer affects life daily after diagnosis ~ it’s in every part of my life ~ even though I try very hard to ignore it.
I refuse to say that it was the best thing that ever happened to me ~ there’s been a bit of a scuttlebutt in the breast cancer world recently with that line. However, I will say that it enriched my life. It made me dig deeper into my soul. I can never go back to the girl that I was on 12/30/01, but I don’t think that I’d want to now. This girl of 8/6/2013 is a better person ~ psychologically, emotionally, spiritually ~ a better parent, a more loving partner and a most grateful human being. I am still in the process of accepting the new me ~ it’s a challenge some days, but it’s one that I will continue to work my little Tiger Mama ass off in order to triumph!
You have to find the good in every situation.
Who knew ~ sometimes change is necessary!
Daily Prompt: Everything Changes
Walking down the street, you encounter a folded piece of paper on the sidewalk. You pick it up and read it and immediately, your life has changed. Describe this experience.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us TRANSFORMATION.