Sunday, May 3, 2009
Well, today is a very special day for me...it is 3 years cancer free! On this day 3 years ago I was having my first mastectomy at Anna Jacques Hospital. My surgeon was Dr. Bentley and if you don't know him he is a wonderful man. He can chat forever, but it is clear that he truly cares about his patients. He even left his company who was visiting from overseas to come and see me on his day off. What surgeon does that? I am happy to say that because of him I am here today.
Earlier this week I was speaking with someone about a friend who has cancer and is not doing well. Mike asked me if it was difficult to talk about cancer, especially when the situation is bleak. I thought about it before responding. Before I had cancer I personally did not know anyone affected by it. Like many people, I believed it was a death sentence. I was afraid of how people were going to look at me. Would they take pity on me? Would they be afraid to talk to me? For that reason, I embraced the fact that I had cancer. I know that sounds bizarre, but what I am trying to say is that I would not let cancer control my life. Those of you who knew me during treatment saw that I never wore a wig--scarves and hats were my thing. Wigs are uncomfortable and I figured everyone already knew I had cancer anyway, so why not get some cute scarves and earrings (we all know how much I love jewelry) and be comfortable! Once I had the proper accessories, life was still life. I knew that cancer was going to consume me for the next year or so, but I would not let it consume my friends and family, especially my children. I made it to almost every baseball and soccer game that year, even after my surgery. I realized that family was, and is, number one, and even though it is so cliche, life is too short.
So again, when Mike asked me if it was difficult to talk about cancer, sure it is. Having cancer is something that I identify with, even though I may not want to. It will always be in the back of my mind. Sometimes it resurfaces when I am in bed and can't sleep, I have that strange ache or pain, or when a dear friend is diagnosed with the same dreaded disease I was. In those moments I reflect back on what that year was like. It really wasn't so bad. Believe it or not, I have some fond memories from that time in my life. My kids were fascinated by my bald head and were constantly touching it or kissing it. Mia still rubs my head every night before she goes to sleep, something that started during chemo. Maddie told me she liked me better bald, and Zach wanted to bring me in to school for "show and tell" because "not many kids have seen a bald girl before." Kids can just crack you up. They really helped me get through each and every day. I also reconnected with old friends, became closer to my family, and learned to truly appreciate my mom, dad, and of course Andy. Without them I never could have made it through that year.
Today I celebrate 3 years! I celebrate by going to dinner with my husband, with flowers, hugs, kisses, words of endearment, and of course by walking 15 miles! (Thanks, Jane!)
Thank you to all that have been part of this journey. I appreciate you, and all of the well wishes. Here's hoping for another 30!
Ta-Ta for now!