I did a post last Valentine’s Day about the state of my heart not too long after my breast cancer surgery. I figured it might be good to do an update a year later and post cancer.
Those first few months were agonizing and long. I wanted to die rather than face this battle. I cried many tears. I know it was hard for those closest to me. I shut people out and buried myself from the world.
While it was probably the lowest point in my life, I can look back on that time, and see that it wasn’t the end of the world like I thought it was at the time. It was a very difficult, intense time but in the end, I think I’m better for it. If I had a choice, I would not choose this path; but, it is my path and from it, I’ve learned that I can get through just about anything now.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about breast cancer. It seems like it was a lifetime ago since I went through that battle. I know it’s only been a few months since I finished my last surgery, and I take medication daily to help fend off the cancer beast. Therefore, I’m reminded daily of the reality that comes with being a cancer survivor. It’s never that far out of my mind and it haunts me like a bad memory, lurking in the shadows.
Every new diagnosis of a friend, or a colleague reminds me of how fragile our lives are in this world. I ache for each one, and I tell you it’s far more rampant than we want to believe it is. Every one of them is someone’s mom , wife, sister or daugther. Each has someone that depends on them, needs them and loves them. Their stories are important, their battles are real, and so is the pain and depression that comes with a cancer diagnosis.
I wish I could say that I no longer think about cancer, that I no longer get depressed and that life is great. The reality is that it still scares me and I still fight some depression most days. I have good days and bad days. I want to tell you it’s because I’m on Tamoxifen, which is supposed to help keep the cancer at bay. I want to think it’s because it’s pushed me into menopause and stripped my body of estrogen. Maybe it is a factor, maybe it isn’t. Regardless, I still struggle with sadness at some point every day.
It’s better than it was. There have been days that I wanted to die rather than face another day. Days when I didn’t think I could keep going, days when I just want to run away and hide from everyone and everything. I still have these days, but I push through them.
Someone told me last week that I had been through a life changing experience and that I made it through it. I’ve thought a lot about this statement, ‘life changing experience’. If I had a life changing experience, why is it that nothing in my life seems to have changed?I’m back in my old routine for the most part. Get up, go to work, pick up the kid, cook, do homework, get ready for tomorrow, get ready for bed, do it all again and it’s the daily grind day in and day out. How do we let ourselves get sucked in to this mundane existence? I mean, are we even living? What am I doing?
I look up at the skies and long to fly, or photograph a plane or two or ten. I long to see the world, or at least the US from one side to the other and all in between. The problem is that it takes money to do those things and I still have a kid in school. Therefore, I have to do whatever it takes to maintain this life for now. So I plan for weekend excursions, airshows, visits to family when school isn’t in session. It does help take the mundane out of the week.
Maybe my life isn’t ‘life-changed’ so much as it is that my perspective is a bit different. Every day that I have is a gift, each day special, each person in my life is important, each task I do at work is important to someone, each hug I share is important and reminds people that I care about them. Each little thing I do everyday matters to someone and is a reflection of who I am. It’s important to me for each person I come in contact with to have a positive encounter with me, even on a bad day.
So the state of my heart a year later, well, it’s good. There have been changes, maybe not to my day to day work life, but I spend time learning more about photography, hiking and flying. I look for adventures, even if it’s locally. I clean the house less, spend less time stressing about what we’re going to eat and more time on things that matter. I spend time with my little guy doing whatever he wants to do, whether that’s video games, brain games or watching movies together. I watch the sunrise and spend a lot more time learning to photograph sunsets. It’s important to me that I do the things that matter. I want my life to matter, even if it’s just to my family and friends.
I hope that you take time to ponder the state of your heart today and that whether you have a life changing situation or not, that you embrace each day, let go of what made you angry and spend time with those that matter. Happy Valentine’s Day!