October is breast cancer awareness month, a time to reflect on my own cancer journey and where it has taken me so far. It’s been eleven years since I had two surgeries to remove the tumor and lymph nodes, six rounds of chemo and six weeks of radiation. It has been five years since I stopped taking Tamoxifen, a drug that keeps certain breast cancers from returning and this summer I had a meeting with my Oncologist in which she was happy to report that everything was good and I am healthy. That’s pretty awesome considering the average survival rate of metastatic cancer is five years or less.
For the first few years following treatment I felt the urgent need to cram in as many life events as possible. I lived and played hard. I also found out who I was and who I wasn’t with sometimes painful lessons of self discovery.
For last five years I have accepted the possibility that I am not dying in the immediate future and I have learned how to live one day at a time. I made many lifestyle changes to support a healthy body and mind and have learned to forgive myself and others from past mistakes and hurts. Life goes on, no matter what happens.
I am grateful for another day breathing on this planet. I am grateful for every human being I have met in the last sixty years and the ones I have yet to meet. I am grateful to see my children grow up and have families of their own. I am grateful to the people who encouraged me to be creative and I am grateful to be an artist.
Thank you cancer, for showing me how to live and love, now stay the hell away!