Someone asked me recently if I felt like my cancer was behind me. Sure, most days I feel really good and I don’t wake up every morning thinking about it first thing, but it’s still with me every single day. It’s hard to shake it when you take medication from a bottle that says, “Take one pill daily for cancer” or see the scars, feel the pull of your scar tissue or you are going to another appointment. In the last month, I have seen both of my oncologists, my surgeon, my physical therapist and had my first post treatment mammogram. It’s definitely not behind me quite yet.
I have been seeing my oncologists since September so I have gotten used to my visits every 3 months. I actually didn’t see anyone in January and it felt like a vacation of sorts. May was a big month though. Having that first mammogram post surgery and treatment is terrifying. At this point in the journey you very clearly understand the ramifications of them finding something. On the drive to the hospital all I could think about was the last year and then my mind would jump to the year in front of me. Our family has so many things happening in this next year; BIG THINGS and I found myself bargaining with God. That’s never a good place to be.
By the time I arrived I was practically hyperventilating. They took me back quickly for my mammogram. My blood pressure was through the roof and she calmly told me that this was a new baseline, that my risk was low for my cancer to return and that they rarely found anything on this first mammogram. Seeing as though I had little to no risk at all last year, I didn’t find that comforting. I also didn’t find it comforting when she had to take just a “few more photos.” I know how everything works now. I know what more photos and ultrasounds mean. The wait was almost unbearable, but the very good news is that my mammogram was clear and I don’t need another one for a year.
In 48 days we are heading to Hawaii with my entire family. We are celebrating our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. This vacation has been a point on the horizon for the last year. It’s something that was planned prior to my diagnosis and it gave me something to work toward. Planning, organizing flights and excursions and of course getting beach ready has kept my mind on the positive.
I am sure as the years pass, my fear and anxiety will lessen and there will come a day that I don’t think about my cancer. I look forward to that time, but until then I am looking forward to our trip. I am looking forward to toasting my parents on 50 years of marriage, to my sister Lisa on 40 years of birthdays, to G on her own journey of healing and discovery, to Alex getting her white coat for Physician Assistant school, to Sydney and Jake on their upcoming wedding, to Reese on her senior year and to Ava on entering high school. Most of all, though, I will be toasting my husband, Andy, who has stood by me every step of the way on this journey. He has been there to hold me, cry with me, make calls for me when I couldn’t make another one, to ask the hard questions, drive me to appointments, listen to me and quite literally hold all the pieces of my life until I was ready to put them back together.
August 13th marks the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis. It also happens to be when we return from Hawaii. I am hoping by then that all of the pieces of my life have found their way back to their place even if they don’t all fit quite the way they did before. And as far as putting my cancer behind me? I’m not sure I want to put it neatly in the past. It keeps my life in perspective and helps me to appreciate where I am today.
Cheers to living well, having perspective, finding the joy in everyday and being grateful for all the pieces of our lives.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G