For all of you on Facebook, last night and today has presented most of us with our “Year in review”. My own unedited version was a reminder of how my year has unfolded and has made me pause to consider all the events of my 45th year.
I remember thinking this year would be a great one… I had a great job working with people I truly care about and a loyal caring team who went above and beyond anytime I asked anything. My kids were so much more independent allowing more freedom to Dan and me. My circle of friends was rich and supportive (and I don’t mean rich in the monetary way 🤨). I was doing things I loved; riding 🐎 , running 🏃♀️, singing 🎼, working out 💪. My life was settling in just fine… I was happy. But even though I was happy, I was stressed. And I was tired, so tired.
Today, now, I’m not sure if great would be appropriate – perhaps life changing because this has definitely been a life changing year.
Sometime in February of 2017 I started to have pain in my hand, which then moved up to my arm, then to my neck. In April (ish) I noticed that I had a dimple on my right breast. I kept this to myself for months. I think the first time I verbalized this fact was to my singing teacher in late June after a long conversation about Feng Shui and feeling the need to centre myself and my life. Because the fear of cancer was already in me… and I was starting to look at the reality and I was trying to take control where there was none or even the possibility of it.
Although I had that conversation in June, I only got myself to the doctor the last week of July. From there everything went quickly.. and on August 25th I was diagnosed with breast cancer. From August to my surgery on October 6th, it was an emotional rollercoaster ride. The cancer diagnosis went from not so bad to pretty bad at stage 3. It had spread to my lymph nodes, and not just a little, a lot! All of my sentinel nodes (4) had cancer – not good. They took out 11 in total, but the sentinel nodes were the key. What did this mean? It meant that the cancer had either been in me a long time, or that it was much more aggressive. Suddenly this became very serious to me and my determination, my expectation of those around me, my instinct to fight for my survival became all encompassing and very unforgiving for anyone who wasn’t onboard.
All those around me stepped up, more so than I ever imagined. I was humbled day after day by the support of so many, and this continues today. People’s actions and support have been probably one of the biggest life changes I have experienced.. because it changed me, it touched me to my core, it made me believe in humanity in a cold heartless world. I kind of feel like Wonderwoman did when she realizes love is the strongest human trait that perseveres and overcomes all evil. Everyone’s love around me is propelling me forward to overcome the evils of cancer. Like Wonderwoman, I will bash it, crush it, annihilate it until it’s gone from my body.
My family, Dan and the kids, have lived this year with me, seeing the good and the bad. Chemo is not easy, not easy at all. And I’m healthy and strong. I can only imagine how hard it would be for anyone who is not physically prepared for chemo or cancer. With the help of my trainer and friend Carla, I continue to work my body even though I sometimes don’t feel like I can. I do it anyways, and I am always stronger after which shows me how critical and important my body is. Without it I have nothing, therefore I must make it the number one priority.
Finally, one last life change to note of many more, is my mind. Putting into words how my mind has changed is very difficult. I have overcome so much in my life I never imagined I would need to fight again. But cancer has forced me to fight harder than ever, and every tragedy that I lived before is ever so present for me now and today. I feel all the loss, I feel all the love, I feel the anger, I feel the disappointment, I feel the frustration. And I now am acting on it. Changing things; my life, my expectations, my willingness to please and accommodate, etc… all the things that made me put myself last. I now have to be first, because otherwise I will die from this. And I refuse to let that happen. And so now my mind is at peace, it’s accepted all the tragedy, all the pain and all the disappointment.
To sum it all up, this year has saved me. From my family, my awesome friends, my Sienna family, my Facebook friends, my twitter peeps, my instagram friends, the love and the support have proven there is so much good in this world and touched me. And all those gifts have changed me in a way that has reawakened me, my determination, my path in this world. I am not inconsequential, I am not just another face.
I will persevere and fight into 2018 and the rest of my life, because that’s just what needs to be done for me, for my family and especially for Madison, Shane and Dan ❤️❤️❤️