The past few weeks have been a procession of “One year” thoughts for me. It was one year ago on February 17th that I first noticed a lump, closely followed by my appointment with my Dr, then mammogram and ultrasound, onto breast surgeon and wrapping up with my first biopsy.
Today, 3/4/15, marks one year since receiving the call with my diagnosis. I will forever be grateful to Dr. Heather King, my breast surgeon, for preparing me to receive this call. I remember precisely where I was, the chair by the windows in my living room, my friend Suzanne was over and we were sharing conversation and tea, or maybe coffee. I remember the immediate feeling of peace that I had, I didn’t feel some huge sense of loss or fear, but more a feeling of surety. Surety that while this would be a difficult fight it would be a fight that ends in life and hope. I’m sure that I was also in shock, our brains are amazing in their ability to portion out stress in the midst of a crisis. Even one year on I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt the entire gravity of breast cancer at one time. And for that I thank God!
One year on, I’m facing fatigue from ongoing treatment and some of the side effects that go with that, both physical and emotional. I’m facing frustrations that I’ve gained as much weight as I did in my pregnancies, but I will not be delivering a tiny human to jump start weight loss. I’m facing that big huge unknown commonly referred to as “The New Normal”, whatever that means. I am certainly shell shocked, following months of intense treatment, decisions, Doctor appointments, physical therapy, etc. Things seem eerily quiet now, I’ve gone from more than five appointments a week to maybe 2-3. I’m facing the uncertainty of “could the cancer come back?”.
One year on, I’m also facing Life. Perspective. Joy. Freedom. New friends. Hope. And this is where I choose to dwell. To think of all the amazing women and men that I have met and been inspired by, fellow patients, nurses, technicians, doctors, staff, volunteers, everyone that participates in even the little areas of supporting and treating cancer patients. I feel stronger, not because I did some amazing thing; I didn’t do anything spectacular, I simply showed up to my appointments. But I do feel stronger knowing that I made it through the year, my family made it through the year. We’re war torn, for sure, but I’m alive, we’re alive. We faced a death dealer and said “Not today”. We are facing our unknown future together and with a strength that we did not have a year ago.
One year on, I have felt peace, hope, joy, love, comfort, care, strength from God in ways more tangible than I ever could have imagined. That sense of surety that regardless of what would or can, still, happen, my fight always ends with LIFE. The countless people that sent cards, seriously SO many amazing cards. The delicious meals. The random cake balls and treats. The prayer shawls and blankets. The house cleaning help. The childcare and playdates. And the list goes on, these things often occurred at times when I or we needed encouragement and lifting. Before we began treatment my father-in-law passed along a passage from the Bible that has been a constant source of encouragement, through chemo, surgery, radiation, and all the moments in between.
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Thank you. Thank you for the prayers, the cards, the gifts, the meals, the dusting, the childcare, the laughter, the joy, and most of all thank you for using your gifts to point us toward hope. I could not have made it through this year alone. We could not have made it through this year alone. And we did not make it through this year alone, thanks for joining us for the ride.