Cutting the Pink Ribbon of Cancer and Finding a New Life
Often when people find out that I’ve had breast cancer, a mastectomy and chemotherapy, their first response is “Oh I’m so sorry.” I always say, “It’s okay. As you see, I’m alive, strong and found a great person inside of me that I knew was there, but never really connected to.” Cancer makes you get to the core of who you are, how strong you are and how important your life is to you. The real recovery is the concrete fact that you are going to have to depend on yourself and your strength, both physically and emotionally, to battle the rocky road of cancer. You will discover things about yourself that you never knew before. You will find out that you are your own very best friend, and that you will, as a team of heart and soul, get through this battle. You will feel the love of others that was always there, but not always displayed. You will find the kindness of strangers heartfelt. You will be loved like you have never been before. You will be prayed for by people you do not know. You will feel the strength and warmth in every hug you receive and wipe the tears away when your hair falls out. Your Oncologist will become someone very special in your life, as well as your family and circle of friends.
Cancer is devastating. It begins with the words “You’ve got cancer.” Then you get busy. There’s an overwhelming sense of urgency and loss of control, while at the same time, a sense of just wanting to deny it all. Somehow, someway, it has a way of coming together like a puzzle. Piece by piece, you start to make sense of it all. You start to begin to have some real hard conversations with yourself and eventually that dialogue will lead you to the right places at the right times. And you will start to rely on your new self. You will see that it is going to come from you and your own will to get through the process. In this, you will have found a person inside of you that you really admire, someone that has been always been inside of you quietly waited to evolve. The one that got you through the rough and hard times and now shows you tremendous courage and what it takes to be strong.
You will be okay. You will find peace at what becomes your new normal. While your life as you knew it before is forever changed, you will come to accept what is. You may not like it, but somehow we always come to accept it. It’s a part of the journey.
It has been 2 years since my diagnosis of breast cancer. I was fortunate and it had not spread. I had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, removal of ovaries and breast reconstruction. It has been a long process, but honestly said, in many ways I am a much better person for having gone through it. And hopefully, with the “I CAN” attitude at the end of your process, you also will be saying the same thing.