I have been reflective today, looking back on this crazy and unexpected journey. After re-reading my first post and the quotation by Marcel Proust, I am struck by its’ truth – on that day and on this day. I knew, instinctively, that it fit. I am in awe of the journey and the experiences of the last few months and feel as if I have come full circle. I can stand in the same place I was in late October, yet now I recognize where I am.
The last month has been challenging. As the last day of radiation treatments approached, I anticipated feeling like celebrating but when the day arrived I mostly felt like crying. Although I was warned, I was shocked by the reality that two weeks after the last treatment I felt worse than ever. I am (finally!) beginning to feel like me again – every day, a little better.
If my “lesson” last year was about being present, my lesson this year is all about acceptance. Acceptance is humbling. The last few months I’ve experienced shock, disbelief, dismay, exhaustion, horror, limitations, helplessness and grief. Yet, looking back, almost all of that is erased and I am brought to tears by the gestures of kindness, generosity, gentleness, understanding, faith extended, thoughtfulness and, finally, the wonderful gift of acceptance again.
“And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet but the roots down there are riotous.” – Rumi
I am happy to be in a place now where I can look forward with anticipation. I am grateful for each experience and the people I met along the way – people like Valerie, Sophie, Karla, Desirae, Bernadette and Missey – who I never would have met but have encouraged me and enriched my life in a very short time.
The next step for me is genetic testing and counseling (you know you have issues when even your DNA needs counseling!). I understand I may still need to make decisions regarding preventive surgery but I will cross that bridge when and if I get to it. For now, I will be grateful for the little accomplishments like having enough energy at the end of the day to smile at and show love to the people I love the most – my family.
I was surprised last week by a gift from my aunt, uncle, cousins and some of their friends who I have never met. They collected Breast Cancer Awareness t-shirts from events they have participated and Aunt Patricia made a beautiful quilt. It really is like a big hug and I wrap myself in it and smile every day.
Finally, I am grateful again for the wonderful women in my family who have travelled this path and were willing to share with me their “travel journals.” I am absolutely certain I am meant to pay forward the gifts I have received from this experience and I can not WAIT to see what that looks like and what God has planned next.
“We also give gifts by telling our stories, for when they are genuine, they become stepping stones for those who inevitably follow on this path.” – Susan Kuner