Learning to Live

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald This quote aptly describes what I felt when diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was surreal.  I wanted to step outside of my own body and just observe.  I tend to be a people watcher anyway, so why not now? Reality being what it was, demanded my presence.  I was fortunate to have support from my husband, daughter, and son-in-law.  Yet it was my battle and I alone would have to fight it. I armed myself with as much education as possible.  I sought out the best breast specialists in my area and followed their recommendations.  There was literature to read and study, multidisciplinary team meetings, surgery schedules, treatment plans and recovery.  I did my best to be a compliant patient. When it came time for radiation treatments, I hit a brick wall.  Prior to the actual start of treatments a trial run through was scheduled.  It was at this appointment I fell apart and burst into tears.  Little did my radiation therapist know but at that moment she became my counselor, confidant and human resources consultant.  That appointment was so exhausting that I went home and went to bed. What I failed to see at the time was tears are an elixir for the soul.  My heart and soul needed to grieve that which I had lost.  My inner child needed to express her fear.  She needed reassurance. All of a sudden I craved hugs and compassion from others.  I sorely wanted a hero to come into my life and make everything better. My faith had a solid foundation.  I was not about to bargain or barter with God by saying, “If you get me through this I will do anything you want.”  I knew His will would prevail. Breast cancer is a marathon and not a sprint.  Endurance is needed and required.  It is arduous and knocks the wind out of your sails.  Finally after months of procedures and appointments it was time to start putting the pieces of my life back together. When you survive breast cancer, your life does not return to what it was.  In cancer-speak we are told we will discover and define a “new normal”.  That sounded to me like settling. What I discovered was my new normal would actually become a transition leading to transformation.  New friends and connections have been made.  Opportunities to help others and to share my passion for writing have emerged. My new normal now includes health, happiness, peace and self-confidence. There are ups and downs that are part and parcel of  breast cancer survivorship.  I have learned to live with them and life goes on.

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