When I heard the words, “You have breast cancer,” it felt like a knife stabbing my soul a hundred times. It seemed like I dangled between life and death. So I thought, “How could it be true?” I had no clues anything was wrong. I felt fine, yet a horrible disease had invaded my body. A simple mammogram revealed what seemed like a red letter of doom. The dice was rolled and my fate seemed to hang by a thread.
I went from appointment to appointment in a daze. I was given pamphlets to study and books to read. My surgeon rambled on with words too big for me to grasp and too much information to sink in. My mind whirled. In the end I grasped enough of what was said to know my prognosis was good. I had a long road ahead of me, but my cancer was caught early.
One phone call dealt me another bad hand of cards. I was told I had a cancer-causing gene passed on through my family. I had decisions to make, important ones. Do I risk getting more cancer or take preventive measures? I decided not to play games with my life and opted for a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy. My simple square life suddenly spun into circles. Two surgeries lay before me. Would I lose myself or would I be strong like a board, never bending in the winds of life?
With one surgery behind me and another one to come, I am like a plum hanging from a tree branch. Each day I grow and ripen in life’s sunlight. I will nourish others souls with my new knowledge and experiences through my writings. Breast cancer was not my end, but a new beginning. I was dealt bad news, but I rose above it.
I started this piece for a contest entry for a Pennwriters picnic. I decided to develop it into a blog post. I’m starting to get out and do more things after my mastectomy. I’m going to physical therapy and looking at each day as a chance to grow as a person.
My grandmother is 91. In her day cancer meant death and her husband died of cancer. When she found out I had cancer, she was sure I was going to die. Once I felt well enough after my surgery, I visited her. Her eyes lit up when she saw me. She had so many questions to ask. I reassured her I was fine and would thrive in this world for many years. She was relieved. I felt comfort in being able to calm my grandmother’s fears. In a way, I knew how she felt. When I first heard the word cancer, I too felt like I was dealt a death sentence. Now I know it’s not.
Cancer once meant you were going to die, but with modern technology it has become an obstacle to face with courage and to overcome with defiance. Never lose hope, because there is always hope. You can live many years in recovery of cancer. Your life has only taken a new path. Follow it and see where it takes you. In the whole process of working towards recovery you may find you will only grow stronger and wiser.
With the graceful hands of a surgeon and God’s good will I am now cancer free. I stand tall ready to leap into the light of life for many years to come.