If you say it three times it must be true. It's an odd phrase to hear out loud. I've thought and felt it since I woke up from surgery: awake, alive and ready to thrive. But to actually hear those words come out of your oncologist's mouth is shocking, amazing, unbelievable...
Initially, after my diagnosis, my mind went to crazy places. Who's going to get my paddle boards if I die? Honestly, your head does wild things when confronted with your own mortality. The fear was palpable, how can it not be?
Through this journey, there were a few moments of real clarity that changed my perspective.
Red Pill Or Blue Pill
A few days after my biopsy was confirmed as breast cancer I was so lost, floating, gutted, and hopeless. I continued to try to live life in a normal fashion but it was very disjointed. Thank goodness for strong habits that have been formed for over two decades. I was still walking in the morning, doing yoga and having ice baths. Very half-heartedly but I was going through the motions.
As I climbed into the ice bath which is "crazy" to many but for myself, it is the fast track to immediate immersive meditation. The world becomes so clear when I get in it, everything seems to align to where it should be in my mind. The added bonus is less joint pain and numerous other benefits.
As I settled in for my four minutes, I HAVE A CHOICE...popped into my head as clear as day. I felt it deeply, the choice was to be fearful or to move with purpose through this. I do not have to accept this situation as it is presented to me. Choose differently than is expected.
Be thankful for cancer not angry. Anger never heals, only love does.
The next moment was in the early morning; you know those moments before you're wide awake but your body is starting to awaken. The "C" word Cancer in my world has always meant death. You go to the Cross Cancer you go home to die. Period. I've lived this twice with both parents succumbing to colon cancer in palliative care.
Suddenly in this daybreak dream state clear in my mind the statement: BREAK THE CYCLE...this diagnosis did not have to be fatalistic, I could break the chain. I could break the cycle that I lived through before. Just like intergenerational trauma I did not have to carry forward the assumption that this meant I would die.
The Friendly Giant
Another discernable point in time that cemented my mindset was via a text from a friend. Wishing them a Happy Birthday they responded that I had been on their mind. MENTAL GIANT...that's you. Always remember that!
I embraced it wholeheartedly, it was the best compliment ever. I felt like a mental giant. It wasn't an over-functioning coping mechanism either. The opportunity this diagnosis presented, allowed me to reframe life even more than I already had before. It awakened something very deep inside me that I can't put into context to this day. Every day isn't a bed of roses, but guess what? That's the beauty of life. Roses, thorns, and stems all have to exist to make the rose beautiful.
The sky lit up with unparalleled beauty one night, I had decided not to have radiation that day and it seemed the universe was excited as well by this. Whether you believe in your loved ones watching from above or not sometimes it's fun to imagine they are sending you this gift to celebrate.
June 28-October 6, 2023
14 weeks and 2 days
27.40% of 2023
100 days, from the day of diagnosis to being sent home cancer-free.
It seems like forever and a microminute all at once.
1 Biopsy with Clip Insertion
1 Breast MRI
1 PT Scan
1 Sentinel Node Injection
1 Single Mastectomy
1 Oncotype Test
1 IUD Removal
1 Physiotherapy Session
5 Years Of Tamoxifen
It's not that lengthy of a list, there are people living through ten times the amount of procedures I've had in these last 100 days.
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind but now I see
Amazing Grace was one of my mom's favourite songs, it was played at her funeral. The lyrics played in my mind as I walked out of the Cross Cancer. Gratitude and happy tears in my eyes.
The irony is not lost on me now of how to move forward without fear of that nagging thought in the back of my mind wondering if it will return. Many people have found themselves in that position. Perhaps the answer is in the song.
Before this journey, I felt lost. Midlife crisis per se; I couldn't put my finger on it. For the past 100 days, I've been so focused on living each day to the fullest, advocating relentlessly for myself and waiting for the next step that being set free seems so surreal.
But this wretch has found so much more peace along the way, there is a deep satisfaction in my heart that every day is even more precious and now that I can see much clearer I plan to carry this forward for the rest of my life. I cannot change the path laid out ahead for me, whatever obstacles come up in the future can be addressed then. As my friend Reta Boychuk says: "Every problem is solvable."
Sending You Love N' SUP,