One foot in front of the other. Keep looking forward, don’t look down. Each day of this journey has tested my resolve. From the physical challenges to the emotional and psychological hurdles, every day presents something new to deal with. Funny enough, now that I am feeling a bit stronger, there are more challenges that present themselves. Am I strong enough to hold a watering can to water my flowers? Do I have enough mobility in my arm to drive? Am I well enough to go to a restaurant to eat? Am I confident enough to talk about the crippling anxiety that washes over me still at the most unexpected times?
Growing up I was a good kid. I worked hard in school. I was respectful of my parents. I was a competitive swimmer, did community theatre, was in a marching band and always had a part time job. The worst thing for me then and still, is if someone said they were disappointed in me. My parents didn’t have to yell at me or ground me, all they had to do to punish me for whatever I did that was “bad” was say, “Patti, we are very disappointed in you”. And that would be it. I’d be a puddle of tears. Nothing could affect me more than those words then… and now.
Ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer I have tried to be as positive as possible. I looked at the news as a project…one I would research and tackle just as I would with any assignment given to me. I faced the surgery and the weeks that have followed with the mindset that I would get through the pain and all the setbacks that were thrown into the mix with a “one day at a time” attitude. Having to deal with the drains, fevers, the look of my incisions, the absence of breasts, the softball size balls of swelling and never decreasing hematoma again has made me dig deep for a light that I desperately needed to get through some very dark days. I am blessed that I am now cancer free and that I have been given back my life. I know how incredibly lucky I am that I need no further treatment and that each day I will get stronger and stronger…..BUT, that doesn’t mean that even though I am a very strong woman, that I have and always will have a positive outlook on every challenge put to me, that I can control those times when in the middle of brushing my teeth or making a sandwich or rubbing my dogs belly that I am overcome with horrible bouts of anxiety. I start to tremble, I cry uncontrollably and it feels like a 500lb man is standing on my chest. I don’t why. Things are good for me and they will continue to get better. Maybe its all the fears that I have tried so hard to suppress. Maybe its my fear of the unknown…the what comes next part of this journey. Or maybe its the fear that has been with me since I was a kid…the fear of disappointing. For all of my family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, doctors and fellow cancer fighters/survivors, I don’t want to be a disappointment. I want to be that strong person that so many of you think I am.
This journey is a balancing act. I walk a tightrope everyday, trying my best to keep moving forward and not falling. And what keeps me going with my head up and the confidence to get to the other side is knowing that I have a net….all of you that have given me such kind words and encouragement. If I do wobble or do fall, I know you will catch me. So I will try not to “disappoint” and I will keep inching along step by step…but I do still need that net, so please don’t let go.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.