As hard as it is to remember, there was a before…it has been almost four years ago. I had lived for 54 years and thought of myself as having been lucky. I had been a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a lover, and a friend. I ate right, exercised, got enough sleep, and generally took pretty good care of myself.
I had come through a divorce and was hopeful my daughters and I had moved toward better times. I had met a good man, moved in with him, and finally after 10 years married him. Then I survived the death of my father. I spent the last two weeks of his life with him. Wow, what an adventure that was…let’s just say, I learned things about my father that most kids would never want to learn about their dad!
When I try and remember who I was and how my life was before breast cancer, I am at a loss. It seem like another person. No one else in my family had ever had breast cancer before.
I had been compulsive for years about breast self-exams and my yearly mammograms. There was something about that last mammogram and the extra images that she took, I knew there was going to be more test. My brain and heart and stomach reacted as one. I knew. It was just this gut feeling, that turned out to be spot on.
I had never felt better in my life than at the time my breast cancer was found.
I was worried about the issues and impact of the disease. I understand that breast cancer is a family illness. But professional struggles, concerns of insurability, changes in life perspectives, and marriage and sexuality all had me worried because I knew they would all be affected by breast cancer and treatment.
The diagnosis of breast cancer brought me to my knees. No one ever really knows what it will feel like to hear those words, until it comes directly from the doctors mouth. And there is no way of preparing for having to tell your daughters you have breast cancer, because that means you just doubled their risk of getting it. And then there is telling your significant other.
I felt vulnerable, aware of my fragile mortality. I was achingly aware of the wonder of my life and the possibility that cancer might prematurely steal it all away from me.
For me my treatment is past everything, except for the 10 year venture of Hormone Blockers, Tamoxifen. From day to day the amount of worry about reoccurrence varies. I never feel completely safe, but I am not afraid.
Physically, the Tamoxifen has been very hard on me. I am miserable most of the time with nausea, diarrhea, neuropathy and headaches.
I am blessed to have a wonder support system…friends, family and all of the wonderful Pink Ladies that have become part of my life.
Everything about a woman’s life is changed by this experience. And the physical and psychological difficulties can be demanding. All these aspects of survivorship must be appreciated for what they are: the fruits of pain and the rewards of living.