I know to some my desire to keep my struggle close to my heart not forgetting where I have been these last 16 months has been burdensome to a few. I honestly understand just how burdensome cancer can be. I really, really do understand this. I know how hard it has been for me to look in a mirror and see the effects of chemo on my face as my brows and lashes disapeared and as I seemed to age over night, so I can imagine that for others it has been troubling as well. Dealing with any form of cancer is understandably difficult to say the least. I know many struggle with what to say or not to say. But something as simple as a hug goes a long way in sharing the burden or easing the load on most days .
Living in cancer's shadow is trying as it is grueling. There are times I know that some have hated me almost as much as they have hated my cancer for causing them to despise me so much to begin with. I can only imagine how it must feel to see someone you care about, someone full of laughter and life suddenly disfigured and visibly walking side by side with death. It isn't easy to have to give up the control you once thought you had on life and then have to surrender that friend over to the chaos of cancer's long journey. It suddenly becomes easier to look the other way, or to talk about them as if they have no meaning in your life any more because to acknowledge the pain, means you must feel the pain.
I do believe though that all those who really know me, love me and understand me realize that for me it is not that I have not moved on, because I am moving on and pushing forward everyday. I am gaining higher ground with each day that passes as I am moving forward, walking tall and heading toward the finish line with every step I take. No, those that do know me well, see me with eyes wide open, and hear me with clarity accept my desire to call those that will listen to action, advocacy and awareness. It is not just my fight, but their fight as well. It is the fight of thousands, for all women and their future existence. To forget it, means to forsake the cause and the life that I have been given back.
I have tried with all my might to stay strong and steady through this uncharted course. I know at times I have failed miserably but life doesn't come with a guide book for surviving cancer. Hind sight is always 20/20 when it comes to most of life anyway. Mostly, living life with cancer is by trail and error. I am truly sorry if I have offended anyone with my hope, my desire to fight or as recently finding my choice in seasonal clothing as something worth scolding me about. I will only say this; I am not wearing layers to draw attention to myself. The truth is that I am wearing them to cover my lack of symmetry. Though most close to me do know this, some still do not realize that I still have only part of a left breast to date. I have yet to be totally restored and made whole again. So to best suite my new, lopsided figure I have learned to hide my disfigurement as best as I can. You may not see my lack of a breast or my scars, but I do. I am aware everyday that I have lost this part of my body. I see the emptiness, the barrenness every time I get dressed, buy a bra that inevitably does not fit or feel the loss as I open a door realizing just how much range of motion I have lost since the mastectomy. In spite of all that I am pressing forward while embracing my new life but I do ask of those that still ask me to go quietly into the shadows to try walking in my shoes so that they can fully appreciate where I have been, grasp where I stand now and understand where I am going in the journey yet ahead of me.
I am truly in the debt of all of my dear friends and family, both far and near, those have been by my side through this battle coming to my aid without fear to rally around me, lift me up and see me through. Yes, I have cried over losses, but mostly I have found acceptance. The Race for the Cure this last year was one of those beautiful moments for me. I can say without hesitation I was completely taken back by all the love, support and encouragement I received that morning. Looking back at the picture of all of us walking with our hands raised and linked together as we crossed the finish line still brings me to tears. I am a survivor yes, but I have not become one on the wings of my own courage solely. I have sought to not only survive but to also endure with the hope, faith, strength and courage of all those who have fought a long side of me.