One year ago today, I took the longest walk of my life down a cold, sterile brightly lit hallway to an operating room to have my breasts removed. June 13, 2018 I underwent a bilateral mastectomy. I had a 16cm x 10cm tumour in my left breast and several growths in my right. I had BREAST CANCER a year ago today, I was getting it all cut out.
“One step at a time Patti. Breathe Patti. Oh god, please don’t start crying Patti. You know if you start you won’t be able to stop. You will get through this. You are going to be ok. You are going to beat this. You’re not going to die!”
All these thoughts kept rushing through my head as I made my way down that hallway. With each step I got more anxious. I could feel my heart racing. I could feel my throat start to constrict as I did my best to choke back the tears. As I climbed up onto the operating table and was strapped in place, I took one last look at my breasts, knowing that when I woke up they would be gone…and hopefully so would the cancer.
They say time heals all wounds. I wish I could agree. The wounds remain…our mind just learns how to cover them up with scar tissue in order to mask the pain and let us move on with our lives. But the wound and the pain never fully goes away. EVER.
Just writing this I am flooded with emotion. Yes, a year has passed. And its been an eventful year; full of challenges. I’ve had some terrible days and some fabulous ones. I have come through some of the darkest hours/days/weeks and months of my life and I’ve celebrated many triumphs and accomplishments. I know how lucky I am. I see so many people at every followup appointment who are fighting a battle that never seems to end. People who are so weak they can’t stand. People who may never recover. So I am grateful that I have come through this as well as I have. But from the day of my diagnosis and especially the day of my mastectomy, my life was changed forever. Cancer changes us. Whether we think it will or not. The only control we have is how that change will affect us and what that change will mean to our lives moving forward. Cancer can break a person if you let it. And sometimes it will, even if you fight it with everything you have.
My Mom received her “five year all clear” report this week. She battled breast cancer too and made it through the storm. Witnessing her strength helped me find what I needed to get through this journey. Two cancerversaries in one week! That is reason to celebrate. As a mother of a beautiful young woman, I wish I could have spared my daughter the pain and anguish and fear that this disease has now brought upon her life. First her Nana, then me. She is diligent about getting mammograms and seeing her doctor regularly but I know that she is anxious every time one of her breasts feels tender. As a mom, I want to shelter and protect her from every rotten thing that life can throw our way and instead I know that this year has been incredibly hard for her too. And for that I am truly sorry.
You see, cancer touches everyone in some way. We all know someone who has it or had it or passed away from it. It is everywhere and it needs to be stopped! We all can do something to help. Whether its a donation, volunteering or even just being there for a friend in need. Every little bit helps. So many of you have sent me lovely messages over the year, brought me food, drove me to appointments…even helped me wash my hair when I couldn’t lift my arms. I have shared all my ups and downs with you…laughed and cried with you…and by letting me share this experience, you have helped me heal. And if sharing my experience helps even one person to understand, educate, inspire or be comforted, then I will feel reassured that this was not all for nothing. That maybe my pain may help ease someone else’s. And that in turn eases mine.
My journey is far from over. I still have many miles to go…at least two more surgeries…more injections….a battle with my insurance company…and who knows what else. What I do know is that I am one of the very lucky ones. I may be scarred physically and emotionally, but my wounds aren’t as deep anymore and each day things get a little easier. I am celebrating one whole year. I am thankful. Grateful. Blessed.
One year at a time. One day at a time. One step at a time. My journey continues…
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.