As we go into the weekend, and I see all the pink surrounding every one of us, during breast cancer awareness month, I’m reminded our battle with this particular cancer, is more than skin deep. It's been close to nine years since I first heard the words BREAST CANCER thumping around in my world of possibilities. I was 32 years old, and getting close to celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary with my husband Johnny. We were raising our two boys, one in first grade and the other in third grade at the time. The year was 2006, January to be specific. We had finally bought our first home just six months prior, and had so many plans for our future, none of which included cancer of any kind. This was a time in our lives in which we should have been care free, excited as we began to find our own place in this big world, but life had other plans for us. Suddenly, there she was, like some kind of sick prank, waiting for me, wearing a bright pink robe with a sickle in her hand and a big sash, spelling out FEAR across her chest, slapping me in the face, laughing like some kind of lunatic. I mean, who in the world did she think she was, dropping off her calling card now! Oh wait, that’s right, she was Death wrapped up with a Pink bow. The terms triple negative breast cancer bounced right off her like nothing and right back on my door step, I had no choice, she was there to collect. Just typical for my upside down life, just my luck, death was knocking on my door, and seriously, when life had just begun.
It would be another year before I began to breath, with a little bit of ease again, when the “all clear” was sounded. Countless surgeries, chemo and even after I rung out of six months of TAC, such a lovely mix of chemotherapy, that little red devil, life was full of tests, follow ups and side effects. You can’t go through something like cancer without coming out of it changed in some way, big or small. I am no exception. Today, I live life knowing I am on borrowed time. Some days are a bit more borrowed than others, but by God’s grace, I am thriving in spite of cancer’s hot little mess across my chest. How can I be resentful when I have been blessed to see the sun rise each and every day since my new lease began on life in 2006?
Life Lesson # 4, life can thrive in spite of adversity.
Part of overcoming the obstacles life continues to batter us with, time and time again, comes from facing our demons head on, not making excuses for why we can’t change, not hiding the truth from ourselves or blaming others for our circumstances. I have learned in my own personal battles, from cancer to a broken heart, my strength and endurance doesn’t come from hiding myself away or blaming my individual circumstances on any poor soul willing, who just happens to be walking by on a particular day, as an escape goat. Nope, it comes from personal growth, learning not all difficulties are my battles to fight, and not everything in life is meant to be understood.
Cancer changed me, taught me to let go and still not to give up. Cancer gave me new insight, a new view and take on life’s ups and downs. I’ve learned to enjoy both the beauty and sorrow in each new day, not to focus so much on the things I don’t have or think I should have. I’ve learned what real thankfulness is, and not to worry so much about what I can’t control. Life’s full of imperfect perfections, one tiny crack in life doesn’t mean everything is broken, or to be abandoned as hopeless. For this life lesson, I am forever grateful. I love the quote which says, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” I completely agree cancer challenged me, changed me and while I wouldn’t step to the front of the line to willingly accept her scars across my chest; I would not erase any of the scars she’s left me either. Because of those scars, I have learned to thrive in spite of adversity, knowing courage can never be silenced and these wounds, I have suffered, have not been in vain. Instead cancer, her sickle and pink robe and everything else with her, serve as a source of my greatest strength and growth.