I used to cry during graduations, but now, I just can’t.
I know that graduation doesn’t signal an end. In fact, not at all. It’s just the beginning. It’s the time for graduates to contribute to the world in ways that they have been putting off for four years.
I see graduation as posing the ultimate challenge: “So, whadda you gonna do about it?” What are you going to do now that you’ve got this fancy degree that only 7% of the world’s population has? What are you going to do to prove the $160,000 was worth it all? What are you going to do now that you’re 4 years older and 128 credits smarter? Who are you now that you know information and acquired knowledge that others did not have access to?
Actually, graduates, we are not so different. Just like you, I spent over a hundred thousand dollars — $117,801.03 to be exact — to change my life. Just like you, I’m older than when I started, had access to information about BRCA that others did not, and live in a country where the medical technology allowed me to take action in ways others could not. I had information. I acquired knowledge. I was worth it all.
I’m never sad at graduation. I’m eager. I’m excited. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to get to the hour after they’ve graduated. Now what? Now what.
When I found out I was BRCA positive, I wanted to learn everything I possibly could learn about my genetics, my choices and my options. I wanted to fill my head with knowledge — all the while denying the strong feelings that tried to take hold in my heart — and create charts, to-do lists, and plans of action. When I knew I was having surgery, I wanted to write about it, scream about it, and celebrate it. And, after it was all done, I asked myself “now what?”
Since surgery, it’s been physical therapy, cancer wellness classes, increased surveillance for my ovaries, adjustment to numbness and the foreign feeling of implants, meetings with a nutritionist to re-think foods that might contribute to cancer, and increased exercise to reduce fat and excess hormones that could trigger my cells to turn on me.
See, Marathon b4 Mastectomy didn’t end when I graduated. It didn’t end when I finished 26.2 (cumulative) miles. It didn’t end when I had my breasts removed.
No, Class of 2011, in fact, it is just the beginning.
Peace, love, and let’s get it started,