For most of you April 29th is just another day. For me, this day is a reminder of when my life changed forever. April 29th 2015 was the day I had both breasts and 13 lymph nodes removed, and breast cancer was evicted from my body. I am a 6 year cancer survivor.
Hearing those dreaded words, “I’m afraid you have cancer” was surreal. I tried to process those words. I crammed a lifetime of breast cancer research into my brain in four short, chaotic weeks. I needed to determine the best treatment plan to ensure I wouldn’t leave my boys without a mummy. Trying to remain strong for my two young boys who were watching this unfold with wide eyes, while trying to be brave for me, was almost unbearable.
I lay awake at nights, writing letters in my head to my boys for their weddings and graduations. I wasn’t sure I’d be there. I lay awake thinking about the 2.0 wife for Hot Hubby, and what qualifications she’d need to raise my darling boys. For four weeks I lived in a state of disbelief, shock and appointments. Finally reaching the conclusion that my greatest chance for long term survival was to remove both breasts.
I remember trying to reassure friends and family that my surgery was no big deal (it was a BIG f-ing deal BTW). I began to stock our home in preparation for me being incapacitated for weeks. I stocked up on toilet paper before stocking up on toilet paper was a thing. I suppose that was the one thing I could control, as I found myself spiraling out of control towards my surgery date.
I remember lying in my surgical gown being wheeled away from Hot Hubby, trying to reassure him I’d be fine. He was crying, and scared, and he felt helpless. I remember silent tears falling down my face as I was wheeled towards the operating room. The walls were so white and sterile. I felt scared to death wondering if I was going to die, and I have never felt more completely alone. I wondered if I would ever see my boys again, and what life after breast cancer would look like should I survive this.
Fast forward six years later, and here I am, a cancer survivor quietly celebrating the fact that, well, I’m here!
As I re-read my Double Mastectomy- The First 5 days article, it almost feels as though I’m reading someone else’s story. It was such an excruciating time. But also, today, my reflections are filled with joy, love, gratitude and strength. I’m reflecting on the past six years, and I’m reminded that we don’t know how strong we are, until there is no other choice than to be strong.
I remember the kindness and love that was shown to our family during that time. I’m reminded of the resilience my young boys displayed watching me fight this disease, as they were shuffled between kind friends who were helping us manage them. Most of all I’m reminded that nothing in life is guaranteed. Cancer shifts your perspective of time, of people, and you start to evaluate just how you are spending your time and who you are spending it with.
Six years cancer free is a big deal, as the odds of me continuing to stay alive have started to creep closer to yours. I know there are no guarantees. For any of us. And yes, I worry about ‘recurrence’ more often than I’d like. But I keep reminding myself we’re all here temporarily on borrowed time.
Let’s make a pact to live life large every day we’re here! Who’s with me?
I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising teenage boys, family life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.