Two weeks ago I began my next round of check-ups. Once you have had a breast cancer diagnosis and received treatment, you do have to be diligent with your health. After all if you aren’t going to treat yourself well, who will?
Anyway, as is the norm for now, I am still anxious the night before any test or doctor’s appointment. I can’t wait for the day when the anxiety I never had prior to breast cancer disappears.
Fortunately for me, everything is fine in my world. I am one of the lucky ones. I have had two friends who have had recurrences in the past few months, so I know I am blessed.
But I am to experience more medical changes. One of my doctors, dare I say my favorite doctor, is leaving the area. She is going to New York. She is going to Cornell/New York Presbyterian and aren’t they lucky to get her. Her career star will shine even brighter I am sure!
I managed to retain my composure while she was telling me her news, but when I got out to the parking lot after my appointment I sat in my car and cried like a baby for a couple of minutes. I know people must have thought I received a horrible diagnosis or something, but change although a part of life is sometimes not easy.
I am thrilled for her happiness and good fortune, but sad for me. She has been my doctor for a long time and seen me through a lot, including breast cancer. It was her gentle pushing that got me the testing I needed to correctly diagnose my breast cancer.
More in the change category – my friend Melinda has finished chemo and soon will begin radiation. I am so proud and in awe of her. She is so positive and moving forward.
My life with my sweet man also continues forward. I am so grateful that our life paths led us to each other. I can’t even articulate how I love him and our life. My life could have been so different (and almost was), and my life with him is so happy. We have been in our new home a few months now and I love it! I have a huge garden and have filled a lot of summer days digging in the dirt. I know what it is to be truly loved. And appreciated and respected.
My life in Chester County continues to evolve and I continue to meet really nice people. Some of my friends venture out from where I used to live (the Main Line of Philadelphia) to go exploring with me, but in some cases I am just letting some people go slowly.
Sadly, there are some people with whom I used to speak every single day who have done the whole out of sight out of mind thing to such an extent that I am just moving on. Everyone has busy lives, but face it in this era of modern communication even if you are busy and don’t have time for a chat it takes two seconds to check in. I have come to the realization with some that as long as I was conveniently located and a devoted audience all was good. Not saying that to be mean, but with some people, they just can make that effort and hell, I am two old for any more one-sided relationships.
I was fortunate to be in one area I liked so much for so long, but sometimes the commonality you have with people just dies when you move. It’s life, and life is about change and evolution and how you handle and embrace both. I chose to be forward-looking, forward-thinking and positive. If those people want to come check out where I am now and how my life is, I will welcome them. If not, it was nice knowing them when I did.
Maybe if I was a purely self-focused to the point of selfish kind of person I would not even think about these things, but I do. And it is hard when you have to realize and accept that some people were only destined to be short-term players in your life show.
One amusing thing that happened recently that I would like to share. I wrote something that was locally controversial. I received a flurry of comments and criticisms and I quipped to someone off blog at one point that I had survived breast cancer, that this too shall pass. (Or something to that effect.) The response?
Why do you always bring up cancer? I survived invasive and aggressive breast, colon and melanoma cancers…so what?
So I did not know we were playing a game of cancer one-upmanship, but I kind of admire this person for being so strong. And they live their life to the fullest and without regrets.
However, that being said, I don’t “always” bring up cancer. It is however, part of my everyday world now that I have had it and lost people I cared about to it. It is also the hardest thing I have ever gone through personally in 49 years on this planet. So like it or not, I gauge things at times by having survived breast cancer.
That is the funny thing about women who have had breast cancer. There are a million attitudes about it positive and negative. Some people like to pretend it never existed as if that acknowledgement takes away its power. Personally? I feel being positive and being able to talk and joke about it takes away its power. I don’t discuss it with every person I meet, but it is now part of who I am and my life experiences. So I don’t hide it. I also don’t mention it for the sympathy vote. I am proud I dealt with it and came through the other side relatively unscathed. I think that is a huge accomplishment.
And I guess still the best advice I can give someone facing this as a newbie other than knowledge is power and be your own best advocate is to be open and be positive about it. If other people are uncomfortable about your discussing it, that is their issue as far as I am concerned. Brewing and stewing only creates stress. Stress aids cancer, so remove the stress.
The other thing is accept that you can and should make life changes. I have made quite a few, and it includes being lucky enough to get out of the Financial Services Industry that although at times was quite exciting and fun, was always incredibly stressful. Other changes? I have never been known for being shy but when people are ridiculous now to me, I feel free to tell them how I feel and then walk away. I am my own power.
In a sense, having breast cancer freed me for the life I wanted to have. So at the end of the day: life is short. Carpe diem.