This is the list that represents the turning point in my cancer experience....
When you're been married for two decades, you know life and marriage are about getting through stuff. Our relationship weathered this storm with amazing tenacity. Because it wasn't always easy, but the bond never broke and the love was always there. There is no greater gift than to realize that you never have to doubt - it's the surest thing in my life and that's all that matters.
It's hard to be patient and understanding of someone else's pain when you're experiencing so much of your own. It' also extremely difficult to "do this" to him and my children. I'm the wife and mother, the one who looks out for everyone else's emotional needs - I don't like being the one who needs all the support and nurturing. I feel guilty for needing what I need.
I got a flat tummy and two "lifted" breasts, which look better in clothes than they did before the surgeries.
I got a flat tummy and two "lifted" breasts, which, when I look in the mirror, look like I got run over by a truck. Just because my clothes cover the scars, doesn't mean I don't see them every day of my life.
My first act of giving back was simple: I made an appointment to donate blood at the hospital within an hour of the deadline to be eligible for a prize. Just hours later I got a phone call - I had won admission to the Jets Training Facility. As my husband is a 30-year Jets season ticket holder, he and my son were thrilled.
The decision to donate blood was motivated by more than just the need to give back. I also realized that I had always wanted to do it, but for some reason never made the time. I just didn't make it a priority. So, finally doing it made me feel connected to my own life and what I wanted to do with it. Then, when I learned I had won a prize that made my husband and son so happy, it was extra validation that I was on the right path!
But figuring out what you want out of life isn't easy. It's hard work and takes thinking outside the box.
Sarah, Kristen, Sara, Lee Ann, Lockey and others at Overlook Hospital have held me up in a way I never expected. I have a support system which I had no idea existed the day before my mastectomy. It's a miracle gift to find such support for both the cancer issues and other life issues.
I am scared of getting cancer again in the future. I am scared to go through it all again. I had a mammogram in January this year, which was awful both due to my emotions (in reliving what I went through the first time) and because the tech was an ignorant idiot (at a different facility). Not everyone you meet is supportive and they can inflict incredible pain.
I signed up the family at the YMCA and started working out on the machines and taking classes. Again, another thing I always wanted to do but never did. Now I ask "why not?" and go do it.
Okay, so I took a Pilates class. The instructor told us to lie on our backs and raise our feet off the ground. I couldn't make my feet budge. It took all of my self-control to keep from sobbing and running out of the room. Just another thing I lost that reminded me of how my body was ravaged by cancer. Cancer stinks and it is still sneaking up on me to kick my behind.
I'm working out and taking care of my body - I think this could lead to a sexier view of myself.
I am detached from my breasts, which seem artificial to me.
One year of oncology therapy - I couldn't have made it through without Kristen and Sara. We worked so hard on so many issues - I feel like I was given a wonderful opportunity and I took it and ran with it. I committed to one hour a week and got so much out of our time. It's an amazing gift to realize your own strength.
It was really hard work, lots of emotional turmoil, upset, depression. I went through hell. But, I shudder to think what I would have gone through without the guidance and support I received.
Date nights with Michael - actually on the calendar! I probably wouldn't have pushed it without having gone through all of this; God knows I didn't before