I received a touching note from a woman whose 33 year old sister was just diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She was having difficulty finding positives about Breast Cancer to pass along to her sister until she got to my Blog and was able to find a few. This woman gave me inspiration to think about the past year in positives. I am in the midst of all of my one-year anniversaries of tests and diagnosis – September 25, October 3, October 10, October 17th – cancerversaries as they are called. Looking back over the past year, these are some very positive things I have learned:
1) Discovering the fragility of my own life. This has been a great gift to me because it makes me rethink everything I believed in from family, friends, God and how I live and have lived my life.
2) Family and friends are amazing and their love shines through. In some ways it is like one year of being able to attend your own funeral to see what is said about you, how it is said, and what your friends and family truly think about you! Words escape me to describe the outpouring of love and friendship I have had. You definitely learn who your friends are which is such a great gift!
3) The medical profession is full of compassionate, amazing and incredible people. My medical exposure was very limited as I had always been healthy up until Breast Cancer. The passion and care I have had from my Oncologist, Nurse Practitioners, Surgeons, Chemo Nurses, Office Staff, Cardiologists and others have overwhelmed me. Where do they get that kind of love, compassion and dedication? It certainly helped heal me!
4) Losing your breast, your hair, your coloring, your eyebrows and eyelashes makes you dig really deep as a woman. It is a tremendous gift to realize how superficial our culture is about beauty and women. Beauty definitely does come from the inside. Breast Cancer allows that inner beauty to shine forth. I won’t say that part isn’t about one of the hardest things you go through, however, once you start to recover you have an amazing gift to see beauty in yourself and beauty in others in a completely new way.
5) With suffering comes wisdom. I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating. In the past one year, I have gained more wisdom about life, love, health, God, relationships than I had in years and years of living. You cannot put a price on the wisdom you gain from Breast Cancer.
6) You definitely learn to toughen up through medical tests and procedures. Before Breast Cancer, I had an anxiety attack to have a blood test. Now someone will be explaining some new test I have to have done and it is like “whatever!”
7) Every day I open my eyes and am grateful for life. I know I didn’t do that before as I took so much for granted. Now I don’t.
8) I now know my life matters and makes a difference to those around me. Somehow I always hoped that was true, but now I know for sure!
9) The weather doesn’t matter so much! I used to let the weather dictate my moods. Think how much power I gave away because of a little rain, heat or cold! I have a deeper ability to see beauty no matter what the weather!
10) Clarity is the greatest gift I received through Breast Cancer. No matter what the situation, there is definitely more clarity. You immediately know what is important and what is not.
If you are in the midst of Breast Cancer treatments, be encouraged. It does get better. You will smile again and you will feel hopeful!