This weekend, the American Cancer Society is putting on the Relay for Life. I was asked to contribute a story to a “book” which will be on display at the event. Here is what I submitted, and I will be walking in the Survivors Lap with my tribe from Breast Friends. Here is my story.
When I received my 2nd breast cancer diagnosis in January of 2017 (During snowmaggedon week when it had snowed 8 inches at my house in one day. In Portland. What???), I had no idea that it would change my life for the better. Yes, 2017 was the worst year of my life; I had a bi-lateral mastectomy with a latissimus back flap, a hysterectomy where everything was removed, reconstruction surgery and daily meds that severely mess with my body. But in the end, I found my “twinkle.”
I walked into Breast Friends, desperate to do something, anything. I had just quit a very part time job at my son’s school after 3 days. I could not be on my feet for the required 2 hours a day in the lunchroom. I was a mess and thought that maybe I could volunteer and feel useful again. My body was still in limbo, healing from the multiple surgeries, dealing with forced menopause and fatigue. All of this while trying to care for my 6-year-old son, teenage step-kids, house, dog and my husband. I felt like I was failing at everything.
I started to volunteer at Breast Friends and signed up for the Survivor Luncheon and The Thrive Beyond Cancer weekend. Both of them together helped me focus on my fears about cancer and life, how to conquer them and what I wanted to do next. I had a private blog which I made public and started to write A LOT about my cancer and my life. I knew that I wanted to share my story with others. I call myself “an over-sharer,” but it really helps when you want to inspire others. You have to be able to talk about the good and the bad things in your life. I am going to turn it all into a book to inspire others who have gone through cancer or other life altering events. I also want to get on a stage and speak to these same people and motivate them to make changes for the better in their lives. I know that I can do this and every day I am one step closer to making it happen. Without my second round of cancer, my life would not have taken this turn and I may never have found the new path for my life. For that I am grateful.