On A Tuesday
Two years ago today, it was a Tuesday. Tuesday July 14th, 2015. Around 1030 a.m. I decided I would get ready and take my dog for a walk. I had gotten a biopsy done on my right breast the Friday before and still hadn't heard anything so I thought "Hey, no news is probably good news. Off for a walk I go." But as we know that wasn't the case. I've talked about this morning more than one time, because it was probably the most surreal moment of my life. I was alone (besides the dog, she was never great with soothing words in a crisis though) and I never in my life have felt more alone. Falling to me knees crying harder than I have ever cried before, screaming through tears. Calling family members and friends frantically trying to get anyone to me because I didn't know what else to do. The first to arrive was my band mate in Roses & Cigarettes, Angela followed by a few of my best friends and finally my mom and oldest sister arrived. The rose flowed like water as we all tried to absorb the shock. It couldn't be possible, it wasn't possible. Throughout the entire process, 2 breast exams, a sonogram, a mammogram and a biopsy all I kept thinking was that it wasn't possible. How could it be possible that two women who were friends and working at the same bar and living a mere blocks from each other could both end up with breast cancer in the same breast. It wasn't possible. Except it was.
The past two years have been filled with very high highs and very low lows. One of the lowest being sitting in my chemo chair on what was supposed to be my last ever chemo infusion and getting the phone call that Stacie (my friend with breast cancer) had passed away. It was like taking a bullet, even though I knew it was coming. The highs being the moment I thought I had a few months to live and my scan came back with huge amounts of REGRESSION, a word I hadn't seen associated with my cancer in the almost two years that I'd been battling it. And SO MUCH more in between. I have learned valuable lessons about myself and the world, I have gone on adventures I wouldn't have all because my life now is about time and how much of it I have. Some days I think of the time squandered, but I try not to let those thoughts get the best of me. Only when you think time may be taken away do you really see the true value in it. I wouldn't have guessed at 31 years old I'd be diagnosed with a terminal illness, how was I to know I should be taking advantage of every moment of being healthy? Even now on days when I don't feel well it's hard for me to realize I'm participating in "active healing" and not just laziness.
On July 14th, 2015 if you had told me this is where I would be I don't know if I would have been able to handle it. I've learned more about life, and disease and compassion not to mention the natural wellness skills I have learned. Spending my time cooking and creating delicious meals that I know are helping my body has become a true joy of mine. Especially cooking things for people that don't eat the way I do, that "alternative" fudge I made went fast, just saying! As crazy as it sounds I don't think I would take back one second of this journey. Yes there are many many moments I wish I didn't have to endure; i.e. the surgeries, the physical and emotional pain, all of that I would NEVER choose to go through. But I didn't CHOOSE any of this, at all. It wasn't a choice, but what also doesn't feel like a choice is turning my lemon tree into a couple of glasses of lemonade. Looking back on the two years I've had and who I've become, I don't know that I'd choose to go back either. So what does that say? I'm not saying I'm happy I still have this disease, or that I ever got it to begin with. I wish none of us had it and no one would ever get it again. I wouldn't have chosen cancer to give me a whole lot of life experience but that's exactly what it's been doing.
For so long I focused on everything this cancer took away from me, my independence, my ability to work, my dating life (it wasn't that great before anyway!) my ability to perform the way I'd like whenever I like. Hell just not feeling nauseous and having hot flashes 20 times a day would be awesome! But after 2 years I want to look back and also see the things cancer gave me. New friends and incredible women I never would have connected with if we didn't all share this terrible disease, a new way of eating and living that feels right for me and most of all honesty in relationships. This has been the one really big thing I am thankful for. For so long I had a very deep fear of showing my true feelings or communicating them in a healthy way. And while we all struggle with communicating how we feel, my willingness to have the conversation in a real productive way has increased. I'm not saying any of my changes have been comfortable, but they have seemed worth it to me. Trying to take something so terrible and turn it into something meaningful and possibly beautiful in my life has been an EXTREME challenge. I can't sit and be mad at this every day, that takes way too much energy and effort on my behalf. Energy and effort I need to continue to be able to live with this disease.
I have three more infusions left on this chemotherapy until I get another PetScan. I keep repeating the words "No Evidence of Disease" in my head, but I have to know that whatever is on that scan I will deal with on the other side. I have before and I will again. Good or bad. Having metastatic cancer means technically I will have this disease forever, but it doesn't mean that I have to give it the power to take from me for forever.
Two years down.....I'm hoping many more to go!