During my interview 14 months ago with Let’s Talk Live, I mentioned that cancer would be “a blip” in my life. By “blip,” I meant that there was a clear beginning, middle and end. I would beat it, and then I would be done. I wish I could be so blissfully ignorant now.
After I was diagnosed with cancer in June 2010, I didn’t start treatment for three months. My breast surgeon was on vacation the week I was diagnosed. I needed three weeks to get an MRI and receive four more breast biopsies. Then, I had my lumpectomy and another surgery to remove just the right amount of clean breast tissue. And, then, we waited for a lab in California to return with the results about what type of breast cancer I had. When the results came in, they differed from the results from a lab in Maryland so another test was run.
The waiting was annoying, but I had one of the best summers that year. My life consisted of boys, blogging, breast biopsies, minor surgeries, and bopping around between charity and social events. That summer was so wonderfully vapid!
In the summer of 2010, I would have easily responded to you with a list of loved ones who would be there for me if I needed chemotherapy. I never imagined that some of my closest friends wouldn’t be there for me. Those people are not among my close friends anymore. Either you are in or you are out when it comes to being there for those you love. I wish I didn’t know at such an early age who would be there for me when the chips are down.
In the past two weeks, I’ve encountered several people who I apparently met earlier this year, yet I have no memory of meeting. I’ve also heard three stories from friends about events that transpired during treatment of which I have no recollection. I appreciate that I was given medicines that can cause temporary amnesia, but I still find that disconcerting!
My doctors regard the success of my treatment based on how long I go without my cancer returning. Decades are obviously better than years, and years are better than months. If my cancer returns within five years, my oncologist would talk about odds and the difficulties of being diagnosed at a young age with an aggressive type of cancer. He might even mention my family history of cancer or my own unique health history. He wouldn’t understand my perspective.
If my cancer returns in the next few years, I would not feel as though my treatment was worth it.
If my cancer returns next year, I would not do chemotherapy again. Period. I believe that life is meant to be treasured and that we need to respect our bodies. But, life is also meant to be lived! I required three or four days of IVs for every day of chemotherapy. To me, that does not consitute living life to the fullest.
I trust that God has a plan for me. That doesn’t mean that I need to like every stage of this journey, though. In the meantime, I'll try my best to keep my tears and frustrations to a minimum. I'll try to focus on how all the blessings in my life and trust that all of the treatment worked. But, that doesn't mean that a day goes by in which I don't miss my long hair, my old body and how carefree I was before treatment started.
I hope and pray for the day in 2016 in which I'm so much wiser than I was when I was diagnosed, but with the same amazing hair flip!