I took this picture two years ago (March 26, 2014) after I got the phone call that I had breast cancer. It was Spring Break, so I slept in that day and was awakened by the phone ringing. A very kind, patient nurse asked me to sit down and then proceeded to tell me I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in my right breast. Time just stopped.
I'm happy to say that many, many good things have happened since that bad news. My cancer was small and early-stage and had not metastasized. I would have multiple surgeries and reconstruction and recover quickly and well. I discovered who my true friends were, surprised at who stood by me and who faded away, but better for it. My former filters and people-pleasing ways melted away, and I began to do and say what I really felt. I began to take more chances, more risks, as I felt the weight of my own mortality.
I have thrown myself into studying the how and why of breast cancer. With no family history and zero risk factors we knew of at the time, I comforted myself with information, as knowledge is power. I've learned so much that I didn't know before, like how stress contributes to cancer; how sleep (or lack of it) affects all of our body's systems; how dehydration keeps us from healing and thriving; how I don't have to kill myself at the gym 7 days a week to be fit. I've learned how to say no more often. I've learned that organic and mostly plant-based eating allows my body to heal from the inside-out; rest is seriously underrated; and most of what I used to put ON my body (shampoos, cosmetics, lotions, etc.) encourages the growth of hormone-based cancers.
I have expanded my circle of friends to include so many wonderful, brave cancer survivors-- many whom have endured much more pain and suffering than I have. I learned that Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer is much more common that I ever thought, and too many women (and men) out there are fighting for their lives hanging on to the hope that this next experimental treatment will be the one that works. I have lost dear friends to cancer and have cried many tears with and for them.
Why do I share this? Because if it can happen to me, it can happen to you. Or someone you love. Please take the steps to optimize your health-- not to keep cancer away-- we don't know enough about it to say what one thing causes it (YET)-- but to make your body its strongest so you can fight and recover and fight again when your own particular health issue decides to surface.
The very act of living is perhaps the best way to live. Enjoy the moment. Love hard, play hard. Say no more often. End the relationships that do not feed you and nurture those who build you up. Take risks. Laugh. Take away the word "should" from your vocabulary. Learn. Sleep in. Take a walk. Read a book. Slow down. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Make today count.
Thank you for your friendship through the last two years. It's my goal to make it through many, many more. You too.