It’s hard to believe that I will be 1-year post-mastectomy on November 18th.
Pardon the cliche’, but it feels both like yesterday and like I’ve been this way forever.
Yet, on the eve of this important day (I take anniversaries very seriously), I’m finding myself in the dumps. I’m sleepless, yet exhausted. Irritated, yet numb. Hopeful, yet annoyed. I actually texted my sister Grace for some help with navigating the mental health process, wishing that perhaps a course of anti-depressants will move me from this chair.
I’m struggling with the idea that I should be celebrating right now – after all, I am coming up on another year that I have officially cut cancer off from the trust fund of my body. I should be joyous, thankful, and floating on air, right?
Yet, as I sit here, one year later, I feel like one of those really tasty cookies — you know, one side is dark and the other side is light (but, of course, both sides are friggin’ delicious!!).
I feel mad that I had to do this; happy that I had the choice.
One year later, I’m reflecting on the roller coaster ride of Mb4M and the year of recovery: anxiety pre-surgery; relief that it’s done; exhilaration at my strength and flexibility coming back; frustration that I can’t sustain the “thankful-grateful-hopeful” Holy Trinity of positive thinking.
I have learned that it’s easier to remove my breasts than to remove negative thoughts.
One year later, I am realizing that removing my breasts was only the entrance gate to the battlefield — the rest of the struggle is still being fought in my mind and heart. I’m learning to come to terms with my anger, with my genetics, and with my belief that surrounding myself with good people will actually help me heal. And that constant negativity and stress is like paper to matches.
One year later, I have learned that I’m stronger than I thought; And, that I’m more human than ever before.
One year later, I have learned that we adapt to what life throws at us, and that at some point we have to decide to catch the ball or get out of the way.
One year later, I learned that writing, connecting, and sharing is easier to do when people are actually interested in what you have to say. That it is easier to communicate with people who care about what you are going through, what you share, and who are interested in what you are feeling. Strangers become friends. The phrase “I read your blog” really means “We are family.” At times when I don’t always feel all that valued, writing to all of you has made me feel important. Thank you.
One year later, I am letting myself off the hook. I am learning to just accept who I am, what I was born with, and to change what I can.
I’m accepting that life is about peaks and valleys. The winding trails might be running, love, family, work, strength, achievement, or school — all of them have their good days and bad days.
But, these past two years have given me permission to explore what it means to be both fractured and whole.
One year later, I am saying hello to acceptance. One mile at a time.
Peace, love, and moving forward,