Today I woke up and got out of bed.
Today I cuddled with my husband without pain.
Today I walked across the room without pain or shortness of breath.
Today I didn’t need 4 anti-nausea meds or 3 pain meds to make it through the day.
Today I opened a water bottle by myself.
Today I drank water without wincing or gagging - it tasted refreshing and normal.
Today I walked up two flights of stairs to water my plants, and was not out of breath.
Today I showered - I was able to reach my head, and was able to stand directly under the shower head and massage my scalp without my hair falling out.
Today I was able to style my hair without need for a scarf or headbands or creativity to cover up bald spots.
Today I looked in the mirror and felt comfortable with how I look.
Today my weight was higher than my temperature.
Today I fit into my normal clothes, with my butt filling out my jeans and my shirt not needing to cover radiation burns or my port.
Today I am not constantly aware that I have silicone in my chest instead of breast tissue.
Today I didn’t need to wear a mask to go out in public to shield myself from germs.
Today I rode in a car without feeling like I was going to throw up or needing to stop every 5-10 minutes.
Today I walked 2 miles with no problem.
Today I didn't feel physically weak or completely dependent on other people.
These are all simple things, but throughout most of the past year of treatment for Stage II breast cancer, I couldn’t truthfully say these statements. Today I have so much gratitude for these and so many other seemingly minor things that I never thought twice about in my life Before Cancer.
My treatments have officially ended, but I’m learning that parts of my life have been forever changed as a result of my experience. There is a clear line of demarcation in my life - Before Cancer (B.C.) and After Diagnosis (A.D.). I recently attended a speaking event with Glennon Doyle, one of my favorite authors, and she spoke about what happens when life hands us an eviction notice - whether that is a divorce, a diagnosis, or some other difficult event - that changes our life as we know it. She says "We don't get eviction notices in our lives unless they're also invitations to a better life. We don't get our identities ripped from us unless there's a truer identity we were meant to take hold of."
"We don't get eviction notices in our lives unless they're also invitations to a better life. We don't get our identities ripped from us unless there's a truer identity we were meant to take hold of." - Glennon Doyle
A cancer diagnosis feels like an eviction notice from life as you know it - often not just for the patient, but for their loved ones as well. For many, a diagnosis signals a transition into a new way of life. Thankfully, I can now say that there is No Evidence of Disease (NED) and I am healing and gaining strength more and more each day. However, it took a LOT for me to get to this point. A lot of medical treatment and intervention. A lot of learning and research. A lot of gross, painful, and weird side effects. A lot of grueling physical work. A lot of rest. A lot of anxiety, meditation, and psychological work. A lot of faith and hope. A lot of literal blood, sweat, and tears. A lot of love and support from friends and family. A lot of vulnerability, giving grace, and meeting myself and others where we were at. A lot of things going terribly wrong, and a lot of things going amazingly right. A lot of mourning for the life and body I once had, and a lot of gratitude for the life I have been given.
I am at a point where I am accepting my "eviction notice" of a cancer diagnosis as an invitation to a better life. As part of this better life, I want to help other patients and caretakers who were in our shoes and make it a little bit easier for them. I created this blog to provide practical advice, tips, and resources for navigating life After Diagnosis (A.D.) for patients and their loved ones. I also created it to document my experience as a cancer survivor to motivate me to tend to and stay on top of my own survivorship needs. Treatment for me may be over, but I have a long road ahead of continued healing, lifestyle adjustments, and dealing with the realities of cancer for the rest of my life. I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you!