For at least six months I’ve been saying that I feel the winds of change blowing. I anticipated change based on professional and personal goals. I had no idea that a diagnosis of breast cancer would blow in like a squall. I’m no stranger to mammograms and this was not the first time I was called back because something abnormal was found. My doctors and I are vigilant and have been for years because of a strong family history of breast cancer. To my surprise, a biopsy on Monday was different in every way and by Tuesday a call from the doctor confirmed that I have breast cancer.
And a new journey begins…!
So I’ve decided to share this very personal journey for several reasons. Mostly, I am so very grateful to the women in my family who have faced the same challenge (my mom, mother-in-law, many aunts and grandmother) with grace, dignity, honesty and humor. Each of them has been willing to share her journey which eliminates so much of the fear factor for me. Sharing my experience is an opportunity to pay it forward. It’s also a public service announcement – ladies, schedule regular mammograms and if you have a family history (cousins!) start them in your 30’s and get a baseline! And, finally, I want to record this strange travel diary with and for my kids – I’m not a believer in sending kids out of the room when we’re faced with the challenges life inevitably brings. It is what it is. Whether they care to read it or not I want them to be part of this even if they don’t get it now.
“Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars,
nor between well and badly arranged constellations. ‘ ~ Alan Watts
I must say, I dislike the notion of “fighting” breast cancer – it feels like I’m giving power to cancer by referring to it as an opponent worthy of fighting – in the spirit of Carl Jung, “What we resist, persists.” And, as much as I’d like to be Scarlett O’Hara and “just think about that tomorrow,” denial can only lead to bad decisions and a waste of precious time. So it seems the only option that makes sense is to simply accept. Accept this as a leg of my journey. Don’t get me wrong – I accept the experience, the cancer I want out of my body as soon as possible. My “theme” this year (yes, I have a theme – I know, it sounds ridiculous but I can’t deny that it comes up daily since the beginning of the year) has been to focus on being present. Learning how to be present in my every day activities, at work, with my family and friends has been great practice. I am certain that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, experiencing what I am supposed to experience, surrounded by the people who are part of my life now. There is a tremendous sense of peace that comes from knowing that God’s hand is on this – always has been and always will be. This is where I am supposed to be.
“A joyful spirit is evidence of a grateful heart.” – Maya Angelou
I’ve scheduled an MRI for Monday and will meet with a surgeon November 11. Then we can make some decisions. I am reassured by doctors, friends, and family who have recovered from the same kind of cancer that the prognosis is very good. I’ll take it one day at a time, pay attention to each moment and try to laugh along the way. I appreciate your prayers and healing thoughts. I’m so grateful for the support and love of so many people, all the friends and family who have rallied around me and especially, for my amazing hubby and extraordinary kids.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12