In a couple of days it is quite remarkably, 11 years since my breast cancer surgery. The date was June 1, 2011.
So much has changed in my world since then, and cancer aside, all for the better. as I said to someone just a little while ago, having breast cancer in a weird way freed me to be a better version of myself. I am never going to say that having breast cancer was easy, because it was not. It was hard. But you have to decide for yourself how you want it to be, and if you want to live happily after breast cancer.
I haven’t had my mammogram yet because the way my health insurance does it now is I can’t have it until 365 days have passed since my last mammogram. And I will never understand that because what does it matter as long as you’re getting it in the following year? And literally, I would not have been able to get my mammogram until after my oncology appointment, so now I have put everything back which will reset my cancer clock to a different time going forward.
Believe it or not, my insurance company would not bend to let me get my mammogram a couple of days ahead of their 365 day clock to keep everything on schedule the way it has made me comfortable for 11 years. Yes IBX/Independence Blue Cross, I am talking about your mammogram game. It’s obnoxious and stupid and petty.
I guess this isn’t one of my longer posts, it’s just to mark the passage of time and say that I am still grateful to my surgeon, my oncologist, my radiation oncologist. I’ve been off of tamoxifen for a while now and I do feel a lot better, I must admit.
I turned 58 recently. That in and of itself seems somewhat inconceivable since, well, I remember 17. I am very aware that I am here living my life, and people I know have lost their lives to various cancers including breast cancer.
Life is a meandering journey, I still feel that. You think you’re on one path and then you’re on another and then you have breast cancer. Breast cancer has definitely been a game changer in my life, but I’m still here. And that’s what I have to remember.
I have been doing physical therapy for lymphedema and I find it super helpful. But what fascinates me are the other women I see coming in for lymphedema treatment. And they make me sad. I look at so many of these faces and it’s like they’ve stopped. I don’t want to say they’ve given up, because I don’t know their journey, but I just wonder how they are, if that makes sense?
11 years later, I still feel women who have been on a breast cancer journey tend to recognize that in other women. It’s a weird sixth sense. It’s a weird sisterhood that none of us asked to belong to.
I’m still not nor will I ever be a Pollyanna. I have good days and bad days. I still struggle a lot of days with being positive even though that was a conscious choice when I started this journey 11 years ago. But I think that’s all part of being human. In that vein, I am not super human.
I will still admit quite freely that breast cancer does mess with a woman’s sense of self. It is hard some days to look in the mirror at what’s left of my left breast. This disease can be hard on your body and your psyche. But I am not ashamed of my journey with this. None of us are perfect, especially after coming through a disease like this. Don’t be ashamed, wear your scars with pride.
So here I am on the precipice of 11 years breast cancer free.
God is good.