Sunday, May 27, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
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.
Monday, May 21, 2007
A Way of Life
Over the last year and four months I have come to realize that being a breast cancer survivor is more than just a statement. It is a way of life. A way of living each and every day from just pulling yourself up and out of bed in the morning to getting yourself back into bed when the day is through. It is about finding a way to live through the uncertainty of tomorrow and the pain of today. Along the way you find, store deep within you and when needed rely upon faith, hope, strength and courage. Your new life is a maze of "what ifs" as it suddenly becomes an open book for all to see, to read and to criticize. Surviving breast cancer becomes an intricate and defiant part of who you are now. Your life, the one you have now taken a second mortgage out on, is up for review every so many months so you live every moment as if it is your last. This is the life of a survivor, a life that is now mine and one I am humbled to live.
As I have traveled this road I have come across many different women and with each woman a new story of triumph, loss, hope and courage. I was reminded of this on Mother's Day as I enjoyed the afternoon with family. I was standing there, taking in a ball game with my children and husband when I looked to my left. It was instantaneous, one look and we both knew. She was standing there, with her hat on her head, standing out beautifully while smiling through her fear. Before I realized we were embracing as if we had known each other all our lives. We stood there, crying as the other people around us looked on with confusion not knowing what to think of us.
Yes, I saw the loss of hair, the lost look in her eyes, but I also saw determination, strength, courage, grace and beauty. I can tell you from living through this battle myself that it takes all five of those traits to step out the door, walk tall and still move among the living everyday. In those precious moments I shared with my fellow sister, I saw myself not too long ago. I felt the tears, the fear and the loss. I understood the uncertainty she held in her heart as she looked upon her children, I too have felt that pain. Yet for all her fear, she walked with strength, shouting it loudly for everyone there to see. She was beautiful and she was inspiring. She was my hero.
Yes, survivors are a different breed. We lose our hair, and our breasts all while still tending our homes and raising our families. We tie on our bandanas and still smile through the stares. We are strong women, confident women and we are determined women. We are the unspoken heroes, which go unseen and largely unheard on most days. We are more than pink ribbons, we are fighters and we are SURVIVORS.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
I awoke one morning to find my life had forever changed. My once carefree life had taken a sobering turn down a road I never intended to trod. Once my eyes adjusted to the blur now surrounding me, I took a long look around myself this way and that. I stepped side to side, looking forward and backward but all I could see far and near was pain, all I could hear was doubt, all I could feel was the fear. Fear of this, my new reality, trying to steal itself deep inside my soul.
This life of mine now to my dismay was caught short. All I once knew was no more. All I could embrace, all that was offered, was the uncertainty of this new journey beckoning me to follow. Why me? Why now? So deep within my soul I sought solace and comfort. I needed answers and yet the answers I sought were no where to be found. My spirit was not ready to give up and my heart not able to give in. A silent killer indeed had been let loose inside my body to destroy and seige what it could. Everywhere I turned I saw death's face staring back at me, biding for my strength and cutting deep into my determination. Death was begging me to give up and give in to it's grip. I could not escape the Grims reach as he tried to turn my joy into sorrow. Still I kept my footing and did not waver while the pull and the stench of fear itself kept calling out to me, tanting me and daring me to just give in to the inevitable.
Yet somehow life itself sought and strove to overcome. Although many poisons lay hold of me physically trying to rid my body of this beast called breast cancer I held to hope, to love and to faith with all my might. I held true as long as I could keep pushing forward, moving backward at times, but always fighting to overcome. I longed to finally wake up and find my life sentence suspended, having finally overcome by living, not dying. I sought to continually give way to strength, never giving in to defeat!
This journey of mine is not yet complete. I am still moving forward, even while taking a step backwards, seeking always to come full circle in this battle of mine. With every day I have another leg to go, and so I travel onward toward recovery...well being ... to new life and to a new beginning.