March 22, 2021 marks 8 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer! EIGHT YEARS!!!
Every single year that passes is a reason to celebrate! It almost feels like my birthday, in a way. I’ve often said that cancer was a gift for me. I don’t mean that to sound as though it wasn’t difficult or that everyone should think of it that way. It was, by far, one of the most difficult things I’ve ever dealt with in my life, and while I have no evidence of disease, I still deal with the after effects of cancer every day. But I choose to focus on those things in a way that feels good, not scary or dreadful, and that choice is not always the easiest one to make.
When I was diagnosed, it was the first time I’ve ever had to face the fact that my life has an expiration date. Sure, I knew that it did, but I never truly had to think about dying. One day, I was living my life, and in an instant, it all changed. All it took was one phone call. I cried a lot and I felt the most immense pain I’ve ever felt thinking about my boys growing up without me. Thinking about my husband moving on through life without me. It makes my stomach lurch just thinking about it now.
Mostly, I don’t think about those times that way anymore. Unless I need to, and as time goes on, I need to less and less. Instead, I think about feeling the determination to do something my doctors told me was impossible. I think about the courage it took and how surprised I was that I could be that strong. At the time it didn’t feel courageous or like I was doing anything special. And even now, it feels weird thinking that anything I did was extraordinary. I just did what I thought I had to do. I followed my intuition. Some choices I made were directed by my doctors, while some things made my doctors look at me like I was weird. It was a balance :)
These days, I feel stronger. I’ve advocated for myself multiple times in the last 8 years, more than any other time in my life. I’ve learned how much power I have over my own health. Every day I get to make choices that either help my body or hurt my body. I no longer see my body as broken. It’s not broken. It’s strong, beautiful, and worthy of love. I don’t see my scars as flaws. I see them as badges of honor.
But with all of that, I also feel humble. I don’t want to parade my blog out there on the internet as if it’s some guidebook to beating stage 4 cancer. I want to share my story, hoping that something I say will spark something in someone else that helps them, but I don’t have a step-by-step guide on how to do any of this. I’m just winging it like everyone else, and somehow I’ve found what works for me for now. Hopefully forever. I wish I had the guidebook though. I would put that shit everywhere!
If I had to share one thing, and only one thing it would be this: Don’t ever underestimate what you’re capable of. I don’t care who told you that you can’t do something. You get to decide that shit. Or at least fight like hell trying to prove that you can.
I never thought I would have cancer.
I never thought I could eat plant based and be happy.
I never thought I would be without breasts.
And I never thought I would be writing a blog about all of it.
But here I am. Alive, healthy, and trying to estimate myself accordingly ;)
PS there is a new Resources tab at the top of the page! So far, I've added some books that I find to be really helpful :) More resources are coming soon!