Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Moving forward on my journey

There are days when I can't recall a time that I was not a breast cancer survivor. I have been living with this reality since December 2000. It has become a big part of me, the person I am today. 

This is not necessarily a bad thing, just a different reality.  I wake up with a greater appreciation of life. The simple process of jumping out of bed has become not just a daily ritual but a welcomed moment. The fact that I can get out of bed and walk (after two broken femurs as well as the osteoarthritis that keeps worsening) does not go unnoticed in my mind. (Which, by the way, has become much less cloudy in recent months.) The ability to remember little things, to finally have some clarity and mental recall -- I can't take any of that for granted. I lost so much of me during those years in that dark, terrifying place that today when I see the sunshine it is a beacon of hope. 

There was a me before all this happened. I know that I existed before my cancer diagnosis. I see photos of me with family and friends. I see a woman, much younger, having fun on vacations, at holiday gatherings and living life as if nothing could ever go wrong. Then bam! I hit that wall. I never saw it coming. 

I knew my Mom was a breast cancer survivor. She was only 48 when diagnosed; she immediately underwent a mastectomy.  Other than needing physical therapy she would be fine. In fact, she would be a 30 year survivor. She also dealt with thyroid cancer; she would survive that for 16 years. She had type 2 diabetes. Was I living in la-la land all those years as I watched her dealing with her various health issues? Did I not comprehend the reality before me? I was 48 when I heard the same words my Mom did, "You have breast cancer." Yet, it still never registered how complicated this could all be. In the beginning it seemed simple. Reality took a slight detour. 

In my book High Maintenance   Surviving Cancer at All Costs   I live through this reality, page after page. Covering over 12 plus years, the book chronicles my continuous journey as a breast cancer survivor who has been through radiation, chemo, surgeries and much more. It is an adventure I wish I never had to take and yet it has changed my life in many ways. I became a slightly different me at some point. Perhaps a bit wiser, more understanding, someone with a greater appreciation for small things... an individual who decided to embrace life and move forward.  

Today is a new day and I will enjoy the sunshine. 

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