April 8 marked the one-year anniversary of the double mastectomy that erased cancer from my body.
I am having a difficult time wrapping my mind around it being a whole year. Because I’m busy, I didn’t do anything spectacular on this anniversary, but it sure made me reflect.
I have cerebral palsy, arthritis, and hiatal hernia, have had two C-sections and survived an abusive marriage. But nothing was more terrifying than dealing with breast cancer.
A few months before my diagnosis, my husband and I were watching a television series “Chasing Life,” about a young woman diagnosed with cancer. We watched it religiously and often discussed our reactions to the disease. Nothing prepares you for a cancer diagnosis, but the show helped keep me from feeling so alone or scared. Unfortunately, it was cancelled after two seasons.
Putting my feelings into words for a double-mastectomy anniversary isn’t easy. I have a mixture of emotions. I’m truly happy I’m alive. Unfortunately, too many women and men fail to survive breast cancer. To know I’m still breathing, can see a sunrise and sunset, hold my husband’s hand ,and see my children grow feels absolutely amazing. I don’t want to waste time, because I know how quickly it runs out.
My life has changed since the double mastectomy. My chest will never feel the same. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, and I don’t want to lie on my stomach because I know what I’m lying on. I am less tolerant of drama and procrastination. Drama, gossip, and all-round nonsense are time wasters.
I have become more of a workaholic. It’s not that new for me, but it’s more intense. From the time I wake up until I lie down at night, I’m usually working on something. Unless of course, I’m busy being with my family.
I want to make a mark on the world, for the better. My husband has to sit me down in my recliner and have me watch television with him to relax, or take me on a date. My mind is always thinking, planning, wanting to help, to do more.
Being with my children has a brand-new perspective. It tears me up knowing how different their year would have been if I hadn’t survived. I know they would have become strong, smart, caring and kind adults. But losing a mother at any age is hard — especially at a young age. I play with them as much as possible, memorize their voices, capture the moments, and teach them as much as I can to try to help them through life. I tell them I love them a million times a day.
I’m a different wife than last year. Being a survivor of an abusive marriage makes you question how someone can truly love you, and be committed to you for always and ever. But my fears began easing when I thought of my husband’s love and support.
He slept in a hospital chair for three days, leaving my side only 20 minutes the entire time. He let me talk, cry, change and adapt. He tells me I’m beautiful, especially when I look sad. Knowing he survived breast cancer with me tells me we can handle anything. I can return my love easily because I know it’s appreciated.
As I enter my second year as a breast cancer survivor, I pray that I keep appreciating the little things and stay busy. We have limited time on Earth, and it shouldn’t be wasted. I want to accomplish, learn and embrace anything and everything I can, while I can.
Whether you’re approaching an anniversary or beginning a journey, remember to live life to the fullest.
Note: Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Breast Cancer News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to breast cancer.
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