I was telling my friend a few days ago about how we sometimes wake up one day, and we are a new person. Something subtle has shifted within us, and we feel completely different than we did before. I experienced this today.
If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know that breast cancer has been shadowing my life for awhile now. I was originally diagnosed in November 2016. Treatment began in January 2017, at which time it was established that I had Stage 3C lobular carcinoma, and since that time I have had chemotherapy, radiation, five surgeries, and hormone suppression therapy. You might also recall that my oncologist told me he wanted me to keep my chemo port in after therapy was finished because, “Your cancer is very bad and I don’t know when it will return.” I understand that more now, as my friend was pronounced cancer free in June, only to find out in September that her breast cancer had returned in her lymph glands, in her hip, and in her brain. Even though all signs of cancer may disappear, all it takes is a few stray cells to have survived the onslaught of chemo, radiation and surgery.
At my last visit, however, my oncologist told me that I can have my port taken out now. It has been over a year since I finished chemo and radiation. This year I have been scanned up, down and sideways for various things, in addition to monitoring of tumor markers in my blood. I was happy to be told my chemo port could be removed, but it was just in the last two days it started to dawn on me: One year cancer free. Maybe that means it is all really, actually dead!
Today I had my mammogram. Clear. And I had my pre-op physical, because I have one more reconstructive surgery scheduled for October 31st, and again, all perfect. I’m actually healthy! The surgeon will remove the chemo port during my next surgery. Then I will walk out of the hospital, and I will be free and clear. And I’m beginning to feel that way! I’m beginning to feel like I’m alive, and like I might continue that way. I’m beginning to feel like I can do just about anything. I’m beginning to feel a sense of freedom, like an actual survivor in this battle with breast cancer, like I can actually go on, and live. You must understand that my breast cancer was advanced as far as it can be before Stage 4, where it is deemed incurable and just has to be kept under control as best as it can be in order to prolong your life and lessen your suffering. And for a long time I genuinely believed that even if it didn’t kill me today, it would kill me one day. This is the first time I have really felt hope that it won’t.
The winds in life are shifting. I can feel them. Where they are taking me, or whether or not I will have the courage to go there I don’t know. But this I know. I’m alive. And I’m going to stay that way.
I know many of you are struggling. Hang in there. Shine your light into the darkness. And remember, you are loved.