Unless something unexpectedly goes wrong, which, as I know all too well, is within the realm of possibilities, on October 20, I will mark 4 years as a breast cancer survivor. Breast cancer survivor. That still is so surreal.
The day that I was diagnosed with breast cancer was also my first day as a cancer survivor. I wish that I had some words of wisdom or sage advice to share about what being a survivor means, but as always, all I have are my random thoughts. After 4 years, to me, it means . . .
I no longer have the same worries that I had when I was first diagnosed, but I still have lingering fears. My initial fears about my diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis have been replaced by the underlying fear that the cancer will return to finish the job it started. Normally, I keep these fears at bay, but with every medical appointment, not just the oncology ones, with every induction of others into this stupid club, with every physical change or symptom, and with every death of someone from cancer, I am put back on high alert. Vigilance is my new friend.
I continue to try make peace with my survivor’s guilt. There are not enough words to convey how thankful I am that I have survived these last 4 years, just like there are not enough words to convey my sadness and anger that not everyone will survive. Eight months after I was diagnosed, my dear friend’s 4 1/2 year breast cancer fight ended. That’s still impossible to wrap my head around.
I have been given the chance to be present for some very special moments and milestones that I feared I would never see. My oldest daughter’s high school graduation. My youngest daughter’s grade school graduation. Moving my daughter into her college dorm. Reconnecting and falling in love with the true love of my life. Moving to a new home of my own. Beginning a new job. These are just some of the extraordinary events scattered among all of the beautiful ordinary moments of daily life that I have enjoyed as a survivor. I am looking forward to all of the future moments and milestones, both big and small.
I have had my faith tested, and I passed the test. I would describe myself as more spiritual than religious. Regardless of the label, 4 years later, my faith, although questioned, is now deeper and more meaningful. It is still evolving, but it is always present.
I survived for a reason. I don’t know why I have had an easier journey than others or why I have survived when others have not. All I do know is that I am a survivor, and I have a lot of life left that I want to live to the fullest. So, that’s just what I’ll do.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story