Three months ago, I sat in the car holding hands with my husband.
We watched the sun come up to Jason Mraz’s “93 Million Miles” and tears rolled down my cheeks. When the song ended, I took a deep breath and we walked hand in hand through the automatic doors of Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara.
Within six hours, I would be under anesthesia for a mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy.
Within twenty-four hours, I would be wrapped like a mummy, pacing the hallways with my IV pole, eager to leave the hospital but stuck for another day while doctors kept a watchful eye on a seroma that had formed below my incision.
Before the end of the week, I would be made aware that cancer cells had spread from my left breast to the sentinel lymph node and that chemotherapy was a very real possibility.
During those first few days, food, flowers and friends flowed into the house constantly.
Over the next month, our entire family was cradled within a web of support from a community that was so much broader and deeper than I could have ever imagined.
Three months later, I have full range of motion in my arm and chest. I can run, swim, cycle, hike, rock climb and garden.
My treatment now consists of a daily dose of Tamoxifen which brings my chances of recurrence over the next 5 years from just over 15% to just under 10%.
Cancer is not a gift.
Cancer is scary and horrible and nasty for not only what it and ensuing treatment does to an individual’s body, but also what it does to someone’s peace of mind. Cancer is not a gift but the diagnosis, the surgery and the treatments can and have polarized my perspective.
I am not lucky to have had “made it through cancer” but I am eternally grateful for the support I have received while undergoing treatment and recovering.
I am not suddenly ‘wise’ after having “made it through cancer” but I certainly have my moments of clarity remembering that sweating the small stuff, in the end, is an exercise in futility.
I am not the epitome of bravery for having tried to keep a smile on my face during the most difficult days but I certainly felt like a rockstar for not actually melting into a puddle of tears on many occasions over the past three months.
And I am physically healed, permanently scarred and genuinely grateful.