April 30. A day I will never forget. One year ago today, I heard the three words that changed my life forever. “You have cancer!”
At that moment it felt as if all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room. I felt like I was under water, not able to breath but still able to hear the muffled sounds of the surgeon reading the results of my biopsy as if she was reading her grocery list. A lot of what she was saying was not really registering with me until I heard her say “and you will have to have a mastectomy.” Again, no emotion, no eye contact, no attempt to comfort me or to even acknowledge that I was barely breathing as tears silently streamed down my face.
I was in and out of that appointment in ten minutes, stunned, numb and unsure how I was going to process and deal with what I had just been told.
I didn’t stay with that surgeon. I had my family doctor refer me to the Juravinski Cancer Centre where I am still under care. I am very lucky to have a team of specialists that deal with nothing but cancer. And I know how very lucky I am that I am doing well.
Now, that said, this has been a very challenging year. I have experienced more tests, needles, surgeries, medications, pain, anxiety and fear than I ever thought I could endure. I have lost friends since sharing my journey and I’ve made new friends who have rallied around me. I have struggled with keeping my business afloat while I recovered at home for months. I have struggled with terrible bouts of anxiety and self doubt. I have struggled with my physical appearance and self esteem…and I’ve struggled with pushing through days and weeks and months of constant pain.
Cancer is all consuming. It takes absolutely everything you have physically, emotionally and spiritually to face it, fight it and survive it. One in seven women will have breast cancer. One in four people will get some form of cancer. Take a minute and think about all the people you know who have or had cancer. It’s astounding. This disease touches everyone in some way. It does not care if you are young or old…rich or poor…good or bad. It cares only about trying to destroy your body, your spirit and your life. There is no point saying “why me?” as everyone is fair game in the eyes of cancer.
My life changed forever a year ago today. There was my life before cancer and now my life since cancer. It has been a year of ups and downs. It has been a year of loss and a year of gain. It has been a year of pain and joy. I have been riddled with fear and have mustered great strength when needed. I have shed buckets of tears and I have laughed and found humour in all that has happened. I have crumbled with self doubt and I have risen to stand tall in the face of adversity. I have shared my journey and my experiences with openness and total honesty. I am touched that people have told me that my story has helped them. And I am so glad. It was and is my goal to help as many people as possible with my blog. But I have and continue to share my story to also help me! There have been so many times, especially in the beginning of my journey that to verbalize what I was feeling was too hard. I would be overcome with emotion, usually start crying uncontrollably and was unable to string a proper sentence together. For me, “tatacancer” has been cathartic. It has given me the opportunity to communicate things that I wasn’t able to say. It has given me a sense of purpose and helped me find the strength to push through some very dark days. Tatacancer, has helped to heal me.
My cancer journey is far from over. I still face more surgeries and a lot of healing but I officially have one year under my belt. I am a survivor. And that is worth celebrating. Is there a card for that? A cake? A special balloon? Probably not, but April 30th will always be a day that will be remembered, acknowledged and yes, even celebrated for the rest of my life.
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.