It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but the reason for my silence is all good! My 28-year old daughter (and only child) is getting married on June 2nd and life has been a lot busier lately. She stresses out easily and my main role has been that of chief “voice of reason” as she suffers anxiety over every little wedding detail!
One of the things I do to help me in my own journey with metastatic breast cancer is to facilitate a 4-week workshop at the cancer center at which I am treated. The program is called “Writing About Cancer” and includes 8 topics. The group (including myself) writes about 2 topics each week. Regardless of how many times I facilitate the workshop, I always come away from it with a cathartic realization about my own journey with breast cancer.
Following our writing about a specific topic, each person reads what they have written and the group discusses it. Last week, I wrote about being diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer at age 35 when my daughter was 5 years old and in kindergarten. I never looked at my survival in terms of 5 years, 10 years, etc., etc. My goal was to see my daughter graduate from high school. Of course, after the first 5, then 10 years, that thought came into my brain less and less as I was moving along with life and the fear of recurrence diminished with each passing year. In 2002, I was asked to say a few words at our hospital’s Cancer Survivor Day (I work in the public relations department). Of course I said yes then gave absolutely no thought to what I was going to say. When the microphone was handed to me, I told a totally off-the-cuff story about how my daughter was 5 when I was diagnosed and all I wanted was to see her graduate from high school. Then it hit me – she was graduating that Saturday – just 3 days after the Cancer Survivor’s event at which I was speaking. It came out of my mouth like a revelation. Everyone started clapping and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Even my oncologist came to me for a teary-eyed hug!
Writing about and relating this story all these years later in the writing workshop left me with an incredible sense of thankfulness and joy. Here I am, now dealing with stage 4 breast cancer, but in a few weeks, I will be dancing at my daughter’s wedding! How lucky am I? Yes I have metastatic breast cancer, but so many of my metsisters will not live to see their children graduate from high school, let alone see them get married. Just a few weeks ago, we lost Alicia from CT. I met her only once, but she had 3 young daughters who she cherished. Alicia will not see them graduate from high school. She won’t be dancing at their weddings.
The on-line support group to which I belong (BCMETS.ORG) has post after post about women just like Alicia. Some have young children and aggressive disease. Some are single moms. Some wonder how they will pay the bills until their disability payments start. Some wonder if they will see their children even begin high school, let alone graduate. The stories are heartbreaking and only the hardest hearted would not be moved. The stories bring out feelings of anger, sadness and helplessness that I struggle with for many reasons, not the least of which is that I know how blessed I am that regardless of where my breast cancer journey takes me going forward, I have been able to be a part of my child’s life – something many women are robbed of by this insidious disease.
I can be sad over many things metastatic breast cancer may rob from me in the future, but for me, for now, I have been given an amazing and wonderful gift. In spite of what may lie ahead for me. I will dance at my daughter’s wedding!
Don’t Stop Believing!