But, it doesn’t define who I am …..

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

This is my 100th post…. I can’t believe it! Just a few months ago I had never even heard of a blog. It’s been very interesting, this blog stuff. I was reading some of my old posts and it’s funny how I can now tell if I must have been having a good day or a wigged out day.

I have wigged out days every now and then. It’s normal I suppose. Like today for example. You know something is just off when you watch an old re-run of Urban Cowboy and cry your eyes out through the whole thing. It started with Buddy leaving those cotton fields for Houston… And then got worse with the steel guitar at Gilley’s...

While reading through some of my old posts, I realized that in the grand scheme of things there’s still a big part about my life that I’ve never spoken about. Not that this part of my life really defines who I am or anything, but in hindsight I do think it may have something to do with the occasional downs I have. Now that I’ve had a chance to read 99 stories about my life on the World Wide Web I’m realizing, hey - I must have been down that day. Okay – I’m sounding all namsy-pamsy right now y’all. Seriously, I’m really a happy person and I’m grateful to say that I almost always bat a thousand when it comes to great, lovin’ life days

But then there are those occasional days…

So today, for my 100th post, I’m going to tell y’all something that I’m probably going to question later why on earth I decided to talk about this on this particular day …

Here’s my story, what I also call my bump in the road.

I had breast cancer. But let me clarify something first: please don’t think I’m being flippant when I refer to my cancer as a bump in the road. I know how very serious cancer is, but I had the peace of mind going into my treatment knowing how fortunate I was for a good prognosis. I realize there are far too many women that don’t always have this good fortune, whose cancer is more aggressive or more advanced when diagnosed.

Fortunately, in my case the stars were all aligned in my favor allowing me to view it as what it was for me - a big ole’ bump in the road. It was something that slowed me down for a bit and caused me to think and live for a while in the present, which is something I continue to strive to do. Before cancer, I always lived in the future, constantly anticipating what it will be like when... can’t wait ‘til... just imagine when…Basically being a dreamer.

I’ve learned (and am still learning) that living in the moment is a very good place.

Regarding bumps in the road, let me take you down my journey on the cancer highway: I was 38 years old when I received the phone call from my doctor telling me I had an infiltrated carcinoma in my left breast. I was still stuck on the part about carcinoma in the left breast, when she went on to say something about concerning calcifications in my right breast that needed to be watched very closely. Then she went on to say how serious this was, being under 40 and all, and blah, blah, blah blah …As I was on the phone listening to her, my heart started racing, all the blood drained from my head, and I instantly fell into full-fledged battle mode. I honestly didn’t come up for air for another 6 months. In fact, it’s almost difficult for me to remember all the details about those 6 months.

It was all just a fog.

Except for the day when I saw a ghost in my bathroom and that WAS NOT A FOG AT ALL, but that’s another story for another day.

Having cancer is lousy, it’s scary, it’s lonely, and in my case, it made me fat! Go figure. But - I'm ALIVE!!! 

I have NO REGRETS for having breast cancer; I certainly don’t feel sorry for myself or anything like that. In fact, I do believe I have gained more wisdom as a result. With that said, there is also a lot of stuff that really sucks about having this disease. So - let me be honest here.  I am better off today, I believe, because I went through this.  But - it is by no means a cakewalk.  

I lost both of my breasts and my fertility. When the diagnosis came I had only been married 4 years to my Miracle Man (a.k.a. Jack) and we were still very much on our honeymoon. He was rock solid through the entire ordeal. This is a whole other story, but Jack is a cancer survivor, too. He survived advanced non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s 10 years older than me, and what’s really odd is that we were both diagnosed with cancer at age 38 during the month of October. A little strange, huh? I’ll never forget the sweetest thing he said after my diagnosis: “I think the reason God had me go through cancer ten years ago is so that I would be able to understand what you will go through and know how to take better care of you.”

My cup runneth over …

I truly believe that attitude is one of the greatest weapons in the fight against cancer. You have to DECLARE WAR on it; you can’t let it invade you. Because I’m a planner and a visionary (my preferred word for being a daydreamer), I planned my strategy around each battle, my exit strategy, and ultimately my victory. So see, being a dreamer is not all bad.

A victory it was, and today at 42 I’m completely cancer free!

Now I can’t close out my first, last, and only story about having breast cancer without talking about the unbelievable support system I have. My parents live 6 hours away, and I swear my mother was walking in the front door as I was hanging up the phone when I called her with the news. My Dad, from whom I inherited my workaholic gene, actually took several days off work to come hang out with me. If you knew my Dad you would understand what a landmark event this was. It had been years since the two of us got to just be together and hang out without feeling rushed.

My Aunt Gayle was with me every step of the way and even made the long drive to Dallas to be by my side during the mastectomy. Bless her heart; she was the one on duty with me when I had a horrible reaction to some medication. She held my hair back for 10 straight hours while I threw my guts up. She kept a cold washcloth on my head and held my barf bucket; she even put chapstick on my dry, cracked lips in between my barf sessions. To make us both feel better she even yelled at a few nurses for not doing what she felt was enough about my misery. Of course she knew they were doing all they could, it just felt good to vent and they knew that...

God bless good nurses.

And good aunts.

Joan, who’s been with me through thick and thin, was there when I went into surgery and when I came out, along with Bev and Mish. Mish flew in all the way from Philadelphia! I was so touched. My little cousin Alli was there, and so was my sister who stayed with me the first night in the hospital.

Jack and I were the only ones in the room when the bandages came off. I cried, and Miracle Man just held me saying, “it’s okay, it’s okay”…

I hope everyone at some time in their life gets to experience the feeling I had of such strong love and support. Of course I hope and pray it’s not for the same reason, but if it is, it actually makes the whole ordeal worthwhile…

You know what? I might have just had my epiphany!

So much has happened in 4 years. I have two new boobs that look pretty darn good (thank you, Dr. Lester), beautiful fields of lavender, we’ve added two more dogs and 3 more cats to our family, and a cockatiel that literally just flew right onto Jack’s finger from out of nowhere, and who I believe found us for a reason…

Life is good. The cancer stuff is something that just happened; it does not define who I am.

There’s a whole lot more about this chick than the girl who had breast cancer.

It was just a chapter.

Chapter closed.

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