As I near the end of my treatment I find myself looking forward to a time of healing. I envision time writing, time with my cancer survivors writing group (oh how thankful I am that I found you), time with my son every day, playing, laughing, connecting. And of course, time with Bailey. He will no doubt bring me joy and get me outside even when I don’t want to move. I have one more Herceptin treatment on April 4th. I was planning to celebrate that evening. It will be the one year anniversary of my first chemo and Herceptin treatment. One year. Who could imagine!? I say I was planning because something has come up to cause me to pause, to hesitate.
About 2 weeks ago, a friend posted on Facebook that she had a mass in her abdomen. She was heading in for an MRI, CAT scan and other tests. This is not just any Facebook friend. This girl, Heather is her name, was a childhood friend. And although the memories of time spent with her are locked away in that vault in the recess of my mind where nearly my entire childhood is, we have a new special connection. Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months before I was. Another childhood friend of ours reconnected us when she found out that I too had breast cancer. Heather’s was a bit more advanced than mine as she had not been having mammograms as I was. Heather had two types of chemo to reduce the size of the tumor followed by a bilateral mastectomy. Then her treatment continued with a year of Herceptin just like me. Her treatments ended about 3 months ago and she returned to work at World Market. She also began seeing a tattoo artist in anticipation of having a spectacular tattoo done across her new breast and chest. A way of reclaiming her body after cancer.
Heather’s post on Facebook made my stomach drop and made me take pause in my plans of celebration. I messaged her privately so we could chat. As it turns out, she likely has Stage 3 Ovarian cancer that has spread to her stomach. They are doing a biopsy to make sure it is not her breast cancer returning as then it would be Stage 4. I am heart sick. Heather is just a few years older than I am, much too young to be dealing with all of this. Although even as I type this I think at any age we should not have to deal with this cancer.
I know I will celebrate on April 4th. I must. Otherwise the worry of what could happen next, what could return, what cancer I could still get will consume me. And that just isn’t me. It isn’t the me that I want to be. All of last year, through all 4 of my surgeries, through my chemo and Herceptin, through visits to the ER, I felt peace. I felt joy. I felt the love I was surrounded with from friends and families flood me even when I was all alone. Through it all I have felt, have believed that I have a purpose yet to fulfill in my life. When I think back on the many paths that I have traveled in my life to get to where I am today I can only think that there is still more to come. More that I have yet to do. That is what I hold on to.
And so, I will celebrate! Celebrate Good Times, Come On!