Eight years ago today I received that infamous phone call...the one that no one wants to get, the words that no one wants to hear. "You have breast cancer". I had waited days to get the results. Days of wondering and literally weeks since that initial mammogram. And now the voice on the other end of the phone was telling me just what I didn't want to hear. Words that I knew would change my life and my world forever.
The words were spinning in my head. It was as if I had been transported and living in someone else's body. A bad dream perhaps...one that desperately needed to end. "It is invasive duct carcinoma", he said. "It's estrogen positive and if you are gonna get breast cancer, this is the best kind to have. It can be treated with medication but you will possibly need surgery and follow up chemo."
I paced the floors as we talked and my husband heard from my end of the conversation that the news wasn't what we had hoped and prayed for. "Do you have any questions", he asked. I choked out a reply and tried to hold back the tears. I didn't have a clue what to ask or what to do. I didn't know anything about this unclaimed territory. I was frightened beyond words and my world had instantly turned upside down and inside out.
The days and weeks that followed became a blur of doctor visits, diagnostic tests, telling family and friends (which I think was the hardest part) and eventually surgery. Through it all, I held onto a heart of gratitude for the love, medical staff, faith and hope. I believed that I would persevere and that God still had plans for my life.
After an onslaught of surgeries, chemotherapy, and anti-estrogen medications, my body was literally changed from the inside out. This was true in a physical sense, as well as, emotionally and spiritually. Everything was altered and there was absolutely no going back.
Today I pay more attention to what I eat and drink. I am cautious about health and beauty products. (due largely to the fact that our bodies are one big sponge and everything we put on them ends up in our bloodstream) I exercise more and spend more time in nature. I am kinder to myself and have more patience with others. I understand the fragility of life but also the resilient nature of our bodies. I accept my mortality and I'm at peace with the act of transitioning to the spiritual realm. (I don't like to call it death because that sounds so final and it's not final at all)
So, I guess one could say that breast cancer was my wake up call. It's a crying shame that it took something so ugly to help me see the real and true beauty of myself and life as a whole.