It’s actually a bit surreal to me. Did all of that really happen?
One year ago today, I had my bilateral mastectomy. I called it “Bye Bye Boobies” day. It was so much more than that.
It was on that day, one year ago that in my heart I believe I became cancer free. The last of the deadly and terrifying cells removed from what I otherwise believed to be my strong and healthy body.
As I woke up today and thought about May 3rd last year, it’s strange how some of the day is so vivid and clear and some of it is just a vague memory. I think stress does that to you. I’m a good way, it takes over and doesn’t allow you to remember parts of your life that are better forgotten. I don’t remember the fear, but I remember the love, the prayers, the feeling of trust I had in my doctors. A trust bond as strong as any you have known before.
When you have a mastectomy it is very different than “getting implants.” There are two surgeons there: a surgical oncologist Dr Davis and a plastic surgeon Dr Macadam. De Davis’ job is to takeaway as much tissue as she possibly can (including one nipple… bit of a shocker that was) to ensure all cancerous and suspicious cells are evicted. Dr Macadam’s job is to put it all back together in a way that the expanders can be placed and eventually your skin can heal and stretch for what they call “placement surgery.” That is when you have implants placed. So, eventually you get there but the process is quite different than just getting implants.
Trust was the overwhelming feeling I recall from May 3rd. The trust I had in what felt like the universe holding me up through it all with their prayers, energy, texts, comments, calls, notes, visits, flowers, meals, books and so on and so on but mostly love. I could see the look in my girls’ eyes and in Paul’s; there was fear but there was also faith. An overwhelming belief that everything was going to be fine.
That feeling, that deep, penetrating look, those are what I feel inside now and what I see when I look in the mirror. I know that there is no longer disease in my body. I can feel it and I also know when I look in the mirror at myself, I see me. All of me. The deep down inside broken bits and the tremendous amount of love and power that lies within. I haven’t always been able to see it and even when I could, trusting it seemed impossible. cancer has helped me see myself deeply, imperfectly and with with the most loving eyes.
There is so much more I Trust today than I did one year ago.
I trust in my higher power God more than I ever have.
I trust in my relationships with my family. My real family. The people who showed up, supported me and carried me when I was struggling to do so myself. Who became my brothers and sisters and watched over me, even from afar. Damn I trust in you… like I have never allowed myself to trust in others before.
I, for the first time since I was 5 years old trust in the love of my father.
But, more than anything I trust and believe in me. cancer does not define me. It is not my story, it’s part of my story and just may be my most powerful teacher thus far.
One year cancer free and counting.