As I sit here writing this I am marveling at those two words, I'm OKAY. I guess because I really mean it.
Exactly one year ago today, on February 7th, at 8 AM, a radiologist telephoned me and simply said, "all three." I knew what she meant. She was telling me that all three of the tumors in my breast were positive for cancer. I was still in bed when I took that call. I remember hanging up the phone and just lying there very still. I remember how quiet the house was. I remember not feeling I needed to bolt out of bed and start ringing the alarm bell.
I leaned back on my pillows and thought, so it is back. You see, this time wasn't the first time for me. I knew my enemy now. It was so unlike that day six years ago when I stepped out of my real life and into Cancerland forever.
Cancer survivors live in shear terror every day, whether consciously or subconsciously, that they will hear that their cancer has returned. It is something I had spent the previous five years dreading to hear. When a close friend's cancer returned she sent me an email that simply read, "the other shoe" and I knew exactly what she meant.
I laid in bed and let it sink in and my mind traveled back to my boot camp days of five years ago, where I had to learn everything there was to know about cancer in 48 hours or less. This time I made a vague list in my head: call surgeon; call oncologist; going to have to get the rest of the report from the radiation doctor; what type of cancer was this...last time I didn't know there was more than one type of breast cancer...and then I thought maybe I should get up and start my day.
Which I did... and I started all my other days after that armed with the knowledge I had accumulated in the five years of being a survivor. I wanted it out. I wanted what ever chemo I had to do. I was ready to get back on the cancer bus. Except for one thing. I took this one very personally. I could see the Beast smugly smiling at me thinking he got me again... maybe for good? Not if I have anything to do with it.
And I have been fighting the Beast back since that day. Today, I have completed all the chemo, nine months worth, a bilateral, immediate recon, and will finish radiation in about a week. I still have more things to do but it is definitely easier from here on out.
I was adamant about one thing last year. I was damned if I was going to let cancer ruin last spring and last summer and make me a "sick" person. Many people thought I was being unrealistic. But I kept up. No one who lives around me would have any idea anything had changed in me. My hair stayed long, my breasts actually looked better, I purposely planted a garden twice the size of the old one...basically, I lived.
I don't ever want to be considered "the one with cancer" because that is not who I am. I am the one who is living who also fights cancer every five years or so.
I am blessed in that I was not diagnosed with metastatic disease. I am blessed for all the knowledge I am armed with, because I know the enemy I am not afraid of it any longer.
Thank you, all of you, for the tremendous amount of help, support, love and guidance you gave me. I don't travel alone on this journey and I am blessed to have had that first cancer five years before this one because now, as my friend Ferne say, I've got people.
The bottom line is- I am truly OKAY. I made it through all of it and now I am on the other side.
If you are new and reading this blog for the first time and are feeling lost and scared- I can tell you honestly that it does end and you do get your life back.
I am living proof. I had it twice and made it through both times. YOU can too.
Thank you to all who held me up though this journey. My cup runneth over.