It’s raining today. It’s grey and gloomy. I had to turn the furnace on as the temperature inside the house was down to 16C…around 60 degrees fahrenheit. That’s cold…for inside. I’m wearing jeans, thick socks and a big comfy sweater. I look like the stay puff marshmallow man. My true body shape is completely masked by the baggy clothes…and I like it. I look pretty funny as I am dressing for warmth and not for appearances. Its a nice switch, looking at myself in the mirror and laughing rather than cringing and feeling sad. Yes, that’s right. I do feel sad every time I see myself. Not a “sad” that makes me want to cry every time, but a sad that for a second says “man I’ve been through a lot…please let all the shit just end soon”.
Maybe its the weather, maybe its the Monday blues…or maybe its the fact that I need a date to look forward to. A date I can circle on the calendar that signifies that this journey is finally over. I know realistically that it will be a very long time yet. I have several more months of injections into the tissue expanders, then a three month wait for the skin to settle, then more surgery and then another stretch of recovery, more than likely additional touch up surgery and then more recovery. When I look at the calendar its all quite daunting. It will probably take at least a year from beginning to end…if you can call that an “end”. Let’s face it, for anyone who has embarked on this journey, there is never a real end. There will be years of follow up appointments. There may be years of battling ailments caused by the cancer…in my case severe nerve pain and a bloody hematoma (no pun intended), implants where I once had breasts and of course the scars that may fade but will never disappear.
Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to stay positive while you wait. Some days are easier than others.
I’m looking at this “year” as my gap year. That’s typically a term used for students that take a year off between school and/or starting work, to travel the world, experience new things and have an adventure. Well, I’ve certainly experienced new things and had an adventure. The traveling part, not so much, but I’ve been to places I’d never been before. Hospitals weren’t actually on my bucket list but hey, it got me out of the house! A gap year is a year you get to experience things you may never have the time to do again. It’s a year that you will remember forever and a year that will shape you as you move forward with you life. These past few months have certainly done that. I have experienced things I never thought I would. I have seen and felt things I couldn’t even imagine before this journey. Breast cancer has definitely shaped the rest of my life. It has touched me physically. It has touched me emotionally. It has touched me spiritually. It has touched me to the core of my being. It has made me feel pain that I never thought I could endure. It has made me feel anxiety and isolation that I never knew could be so debilitating and yet was able to push through. And it has made me feel overwhelming joy and gratitude at things like coming home from the hospital or seeing my daughter’s face when she visited after my surgery; enjoying a home cooked meal; laughing with friends and family and even having my dog jump on the bed to lick my face after a sleepless night. These are the things that my “gap” year has given me. These are all things that I will remember. These are the experiences that have shaped me into the person that I’ve now become. I still have many more months in my gap year and I have many more adventures to if not to look forward to but to anticipate. Not all will be easy, but this journey has taught me that I can handle anything that is put in my path. I am forever changed from this experience….and that’s exactly what a gap year is for.
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.