365 days ago I was diagnosed with cancer. 365 days ago my life changed in an instant. Over the past 365 days I have had two surgeries, one was 12 hours long, 8 rounds of chemo, lost my hair, 3 small procedures, so many scans I won’t even try to count (and had to drink gross contrast solution), spent 5 weeks in the hospital, actually thought about death in a very real and scary way, healed, had two sets of clean scans, and most importantly become myself again. I read something recently about celebrating your cancerversary (which I think is stupid) and I refuse to ever celebrate being diagnosed. Instead I will continue to celebrate living.
I still cry over things (including writing this post), it’s amazing what triggers me, but not in the same way I did a year ago. I almost cried at yoga this morning thinking about it all but my amazing instructor set today’s intention to “now” and it was perfect. I am still so sensitive/sad over my hair that it makes me cry almost once a week. Please, please don’t tell me it looks good. That doesn’t help and doesn’t have anything to do with how I feel about it. I will say this 1000 times if I have to. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t think I was going to lose my hair. And I did. And it was traumatic. And I will have to deal with that for as long as it takes me.
I have learned and been reminded of how utterly amazing the human race is. Terrible things happen every day and there are horrible people in the world, but I was surrounded by the most amazing people. All of you out there in the world that visited me, sent me cards, sent flowers, sent good wishes, reconnected with me, sent socks and coloring books, sent meals, paid to have my house cleaned: I can’t imagine the last year without each and every one of you. I have read countless posts about people’s friends and family disappear during cancer diagnosis and treatment and I never once felt that. Not once.
Also in the last 365 days, I traveled to Brooklyn for a wedding, Seattle for Thanksgiving, Phoenix to relax and while each one of those trips had limitations, some much larger than others, I was still able to go. I was weak, but determined in Brooklyn. I was sick and miserable in Seattle, but so happy to be surrounded by family. I was weak and tired in Phoenix, but so so happy I got to spend time with my cousins. I started running again. I started going to yoga again. I started going to Barre classes. I’ve gone kayaking. I’ve gone hiking. I raced a 5k. If you asked me 365 days ago if I thought any of that was going to be possible I would have said no. While a lot of the last 365 days were miserable and scary and unpredictable and awful; there were also so many good days.
Cancer is life-altering, but not defining.