Three years ago, on this very day, many of you were praying for me as I went into the hospital to undergo a bi-lateral mastectomy. Today is a day of celebration and I feel blessed, Blessed, BLESSED!
You may recall in 2011 when this healing journey began, I asked you to do one thing: To see me as Whole. As already healed…in the present tense. And you did. Thank you.
Over the three-plus years since the diagnosis that started it all, I have learned more than I’d sometimes care to remember about cancer: the logistics of maneuvering the in’s and out’s, the physical aspects, and the emotional and psychological splat of it. That’s what it often feels like—SPLAT!—out of control and smearing in so many different directions, there’s no way to contain your emotions at times.
But here’s one thing I’ve found to be true of cancer: no two experiences are the same. Everyone lives their own, unique experience. It’s the same with divorce. With childbirth. With attending university. We each travel our own, distinct journey, framing our own, remarkable path.
There are certain journeys and paths that do not have to be….
What Cancer Is NOT, What Cancer CANNOT
The above picture is of a tag that was attached to the ear of a stuffed-animal given to me by the radiologist who performed the mammogram which resulted in a diagnosis of breast cancer. (My first—and last—mammogram, at age 4o. Take your annual screenings seriously. Please schedule your mammogram.)
I keep this tag in my wallet. It’s right next to my credit card. And although I grab the credit card a bit more often than I do this little tag, its message is enormously important to me. Its words are a constant reminder of what cancer is NOT, what cancer CANNOT do. And DID NOT do.
Claim Hope, Heart, and Health
We must never lose our hope; it’s what keeps us going! Hope floats. It soars. It lifts our hearts. (Secret: I sometimes wonder if hope is what helps our hearts to beat.) Stand next to your love, and as hope anticipates your lips to touch, see if your heart beats faster—or maybe even skips a beat. Hope has an ethereal quality about it. And when you couple hope with faith, you are unstoppable. Faith has the element of trust that says, “Things will work out for the highest good, no matter what that looks like.”
…which also means not being married to a particular outcome. Not becoming crushed when the outcome you’ve been praying for, cheering on, and fantasizing about doesn’t come true.
Hope. Have faith. Trust.
To my family, my friends, and all of you who were praying for me, seeing me as Whole and Healed, Thank You.
Today, join me in celebrating three years of being CANCER FREE! Let us celebrate Life. Hope. Heart. Health.
Please consider sharing this post—the more people understand the urgency in getting regular screenings, the more blessings we will have to celebrate.
Thank you, Dr. Jekot, for being so thorough with my mammogram and all of the tests and diagnostic procedures that followed. Thank you for the gentle, yet swift delivery of my diagnosis. And thank you to your staff, especially a nurse named Stacy; I will never forget her kindness.
Thank you, Dr. Laidley, for your excellent surgical skills that resulted in the removal of all of the cancer cells. Thank you for working with me while I made some tough decisions and supporting many of my holistic requests. Thank you and your wonderful nurse Cheryl and office manager Brandy for the ongoing care you provide as you continue to monitor me so closely.
Thank you, Dr. Antonetti, for man-oh-man, where to begin? Thank you for being my medical anchor. Thank you for opening my eyes to the brilliance of your profession. Thank you for being one of the most caring people I’ve ever met…who happened to balance that with crazy, meticulous skills in the operating room, not once, but twice. Thank you for gently pushing me to see the feminine beauty I possessed, but was unaware of. (And btw, thank you for my oh-so-fabulous breasts! Never thought “the girls” could be this beautiful, scars and all.)