Tomorrow is an anniversary. And anniversaries are all about celebrating, right? Well, that's exactly what I'm doing!
One year ago I got the news...
That terrible, dreaded phrase no one EVER wants to hear...
The big "C" word...
Yes, one year ago I was told I had breast cancer. So many emotions swirled through my head...
'I'm too young; I'm only 40!' 'I don't want to die!' 'I can't believe this is happening!' 'I'm so scared!' Those were just a FEW of the thoughts running around that I tried to chase away.
Like it or not, I started on a journey that day. One I certainly didn't sign up for but had to go on anyway - ready or not. Cancer doesn't care if your house is clean or you've got a vacation planned! LOL
Today, I can celebrate. Today, I can reflect back on this last year and see just how far I've come. The journey hasn't been easy. It's been filled with pain, sickness, sadness, tears, anger, frustration...but also with a whole lot of these things - love, support, kindness, encouragement, thoughtfulness, help, laughter, joys.
I MADE IT THROUGH! Through surgeries and chemotherapy and losing my hair, my eyelashes, my eyebrows. Through feeling like a freak without all of those things. Through wigs and bandanas. Through pain so bad I felt like I couldn't take another minute more. Through radiation treatments.
And NOW I'm on the other side...
Eyebrows, eyelashes, HAIR! All treatments...DONE! I'm ALIVE! I feel WONDERFUL! It's amazing! I'm so thankful. God brought me through!
Some of you know this and some of you don't. My mom died of breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones; she was only 49 years old. She had been an oncology nurse for about 23 years. Two of my mom's sisters and a niece are breast cancer survivors. One of my dad's sisters is a breast cancer survivor. I was well acquainted with breast cancer long before my own diagnosis.
Can I tell you something about how you can be supportive to someone dealing with cancer?
JUST BE THERE. You don't have to say a bunch of flowery words. Don't make the cliche' statements like 'Everything happens for a reason' or stuff like that. (Doesn't help. Not one bit. In fact, it just made me want to avoid the people who said it. Just bein' real.)
ASK what you can do that will help the most. That could be anything practical like making meals, helping with kids or cleaning house, etc. Or it could be driving to doctor's appointments/treatments. Just depends on the individual.
DO CALL OR SEND CARDS. Just to know I was being thought of and prayed for...that was huge for me! Really think about that...doesn't take much to sign a card, add a stamp and send it. Or picking up the phone to say you're thinking of that person. Yet it means so much!
THERE *IS* A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PITY AND CONCERN! Try to be as genuine as you can. Even if you don't know what to say, then just say that. Being honest is always better. I never wanted people feeling sorry for me. I could tell sincere concern and just plain 'ole pity.
I've been so blessed in so many ways through my journey. Like I said, it hasn't been easy. I've had to make the decision every single day to stay positive, find the GOOD in the situation. Sometimes that's really hard but it's there; you just have to search for it. I've faced much of this with quite a sense of humor...that has made it easier. Sometimes what else can you do? You're either gonna cry or laugh - comes down to a choice between the two!
There's a very easy way you can help. Look on my sidebar and click on the Breast Cancer Site link. That simple click will help to fund a mammogram for a woman who otherwise would not be able to have one done. We all know early detection saves lives. I am living proof that it does!
Be diligent about doing a monthly self breast exam. *YOU* know your own body and if something is not right. DO NOT put off going to see the doctor! I found the lump on my own, not through an exam by the doctor or a mammogram.
If there is anything I do to help someone out, please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail. (Address is listed on my sidebar.) I'm not an expert; I just know what I've gone through and I'm very open about my cancer experience...
Just wanted to add a bit more to this post. My friend Beth @ Aunties With Advice reminded me of something I'd shared right after my cancer diagnosis. Our daughter Tess, who was 12 years old at the time, wrote a very lovely poem. It touched my heart so deeply and I was so proud of her for sharing her feelings and fears. Tess has been a wonderful support to me throughout this last year. She helped shave my head when my hair started falling out and we decided to make a party of it! I am very blessed to have such awesome support from a wonderful family and from all of you, my blogging friends...THANKS!!!
I want it all fake,
I wish it wasn't real.
Everything inside me;
It's just the way I feel.
Can't it just go away?
Can't it just be fake?
Just some cruel joke,
Just a big mistake.
Making everyone scared.
I think it's all fake.
But it isn't at all.
We're all doing our best, not to see my family fall.
Dear God, oh please -
Let her be healed.
She's my mom.
And I love her.
I don't know what I would ever do without her.