Saturday, January 12, 2008

But, it doesn’t define who I am …..

This is my 100th post…. I can’t believe it! Just a few months ago I had never even heard of a blog. It’s been very interesting, this blog stuff. I was reading some of my old posts and it’s funny how I can now tell if I must have been having a good day or a wigged out day.

I have wigged out days every now and then. It’s normal I suppose. Like today for example. You know something is just off when you watch an old re-run of Urban Cowboy and cry your eyes out through the whole thing. It started with Buddy leaving those cotton fields for Houston… And then got worse with the steel guitar at Gilley’s...

While reading through some of my old posts, I realized that in the grand scheme of things there’s still a big part about my life that I’ve never spoken about. Not that this part of my life really defines who I am or anything, but in hindsight I do think it may have something to do with the occasional downs I have. Now that I’ve had a chance to read 99 stories about my life on the World Wide Web I’m realizing, hey - I must have been down that day. Okay – I’m sounding all namsy-pamsy right now y’all. Seriously, I’m really a happy person and I’m grateful to say that I almost always bat a thousand when it comes to great, lovin’ life days

But then there are those occasional days…

So today, for my 100th post, I’m going to tell y’all something that I’m probably going to question later why on earth I decided to talk about this on this particular day …

Here’s my story, what I also call my bump in the road.

I had breast cancer. But let me clarify something first: please don’t think I’m being flippant when I refer to my cancer as a bump in the road. I know how very serious cancer is, but I had the peace of mind going into my treatment knowing how fortunate I was for a good prognosis. I realize there are far too many women that don’t always have this good fortune, whose cancer is more aggressive or more advanced when diagnosed.

Fortunately, in my case the stars were all aligned in my favor allowing me to view it as what it was for me - a big ole’ bump in the road. It was something that slowed me down for a bit and caused me to think and live for a while in the present, which is something I continue to strive to do. Before cancer, I always lived in the future, constantly anticipating what it will be like when... can’t wait ‘til... just imagine when…Basically being a dreamer.

I’ve learned (and am still learning) that living in the moment is a very good place.

Regarding bumps in the road, let me take you down my journey on the cancer highway: I was 38 years old when I received the phone call from my doctor telling me I had an infiltrated carcinoma in my left breast. I was still stuck on the part about carcinoma in the left breast, when she went on to say something about concerning calcifications in my right breast that needed to be watched very closely. Then she went on to say how serious this was, being under 40 and all, and blah, blah, blah blah …As I was on the phone listening to her, my heart started racing, all the blood drained from my head, and I instantly fell into full-fledged battle mode. I honestly didn’t come up for air for another 6 months. In fact, it’s almost difficult for me to remember all the details about those 6 months.

It was all just a fog.

Except for the day when I saw a ghost in my bathroom and that WAS NOT A FOG AT ALL, but that’s another story for another day.

You know, as a cancer survivor, it’s interesting to me when I hear people say that having cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them. I’m sorry, but I just disagree. It’s not a great thing that happened to me. I keep waiting for the epiphany to occur or the profound event to happen in which I will say, having cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me. I heard Lance Armstrong say this very thing the other day. He actually said that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to him. Better than the birth of your children? Better than winning that big race(s)? Better than your own personal Sheryl Crow concert?

I just don’t get it. Having cancer is lousy, it’s scary, it’s lonely, and in my case, it made me fat! Go figure.

I still have 10 stubborn pounds from the hormonal treatment that just won’t budge. Now don’t get me wrong; I am MORE than grateful that I’m healthy and cancer free. If the only price I had to pay was 10 lingering pounds, well so be it; I gladly give you 10 robust pounds. Warranty included. I will even throw in an extra 5 for good faith.

Don’t get me wrong, I have NO REGRETS for having breast cancer; I certainly don’t feel sorry for myself or anything like that. In fact, I do believe I have gained more wisdom as a result. I’m just being realistic here - It’s not the best thing that ever happened to me.

There’s a lot of stuff that really sucks about having this disease.

I lost both of my breasts and my fertility. When the diagnosis came I had only been married 4 years to my Miracle Man and we were still very much on our honeymoon. He was rock solid through the entire ordeal. This is a whole other story, but Jack is a cancer survivor, too. He survived advanced non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s 10 years older than me, and what’s really odd is that we were both diagnosed with cancer at age 38 during the month of October. A little strange, huh? I’ll never forget the sweetest thing he said after my diagnosis: “I think the reason God had me go through cancer ten years ago is so that I would be able to understand what you will go through and know how to take better care of you.”

My cup runneth over …

I truly believe that attitude is one of the greatest weapons in the fight against cancer. You have to DECLARE WAR on it; you can’t let it invade you. Because I’m a planner and a visionary (my preferred word for being a daydreamer), I planned my strategy around each battle, my exit strategy, and ultimately my victory. So see, being a dreamer is not all bad.

A victory it was, and today at 42 I’m completely cancer free!

Now I can’t close out my first, last, and only story about having breast cancer without talking about the unbelievable support system I have. My parents live 6 hours away, and I swear my mother was walking in the front door as I was hanging up the phone when I called her with the news. My Dad, from whom I inherited my workaholic gene, actually took several days off work to come hang out with me. If you knew my Dad you would understand what a landmark event this was. It had been years since the two of us got to just be together and hang out without feeling rushed.

My Aunt Gayle was with me every step of the way and even made the long drive to Dallas to be by my side during the mastectomy. Bless her heart; she was the one on duty with me when I had a horrible reaction to some medication. She held my hair back for 10 straight hours while I threw my guts up. She kept a cold washcloth on my head and held my barf bucket; she even put chapstick on my dry, cracked lips in between my barf sessions. To make us both feel better she even yelled at a few nurses for not doing what she felt was enough about my misery. Of course she knew they were doing all they could, it just felt good to vent and they knew that...

God bless good nurses.

And good aunts.

Joan, who’s been with me through thick and thin, was there when I went into surgery and when I came out, along with Bev and Mish. Mish flew in all the way from Philadelphia! I was so touched. My little cousin Alli was there, and so was my sister who stayed with me the first night in the hospital.

Jack and I were the only ones in the room when the bandages came off. I cried, and Miracle Man just held me saying, “it’s okay, it’s okay”…

I hope everyone at some time in their life gets to experience the feeling I had of such strong love and support. Of course I hope and pray it’s not for the same reason, but if it is, it actually makes the whole ordeal worthwhile…

You know what? I might have just had my epiphany!

So much has happened in 4 years. I have two new boobs that look pretty darn good (thank you, Dr. Lester), beautiful fields of lavender, we’ve added two more dogs and 3 more cats to our family, and a cockatiel that literally just flew right onto Jack’s finger from out of nowhere, and who I believe found us for a reason…

Life is good. The cancer stuff is something that just happened; it does not define who I am.

There’s a whole lot more about this chick than the girl who had breast cancer.

It was just a chapter.

Chapter closed.

18 comments:

Kilroy_60 said...

If insomnia opens the door to some computer time I invite you to drop off five of your favorite posts for the progressive dinner blog carnival.

Congratulations on the first 100 posts. I have no expectation that they begin to define you, but the surfacing scratching has been enjoyable.

Look forward to another visit, to and from, soon.

Ciao

me said...

Thank you for sharing this story. A beautiful post for your 100th.

Lila

P.S. I saw Juno yesterday and loved it!

cyn said...

Thanks for being real and sharing a chapter of your life. Well written. You blessed me with your words this morning!

Design Block said...

It was a horrible six months and it seems like it was longer than that. I am thankful that you beat cancer and you are still here. You are a wonderful sister-mother, and the best aunt my children could ever hope for. I love you.

Dottie said...

Thanks for sharing, Debi. You're story is an inspiration to many and I feel blessed to call you friend.

Boyz3Mommy said...

As the tears stream down my face (I know, I know...don't lecture me that that's not what that was all about)...but as they do, I have but one thing to say to you - I love you sweet ladybug and feel so honored to have you in my life. As this year has ripped a few of the ones I love most from my life, I just want you to know that living every day the way that YOU do is incredible. You are an inspiration and the hugest package of friendship imaginable. Love you LC!

justabeachkat said...

Well, my company is gone and I'm kinda/sorta caught up around the house. I've been catching up on my blog reading that I missed this past week.

What a wonderful post about a difficult topic. As a breast cancer survivor myself, I understand. I've never said that cancer is the best thing to ever happen in my life (Lord NO), but I have said (and I believe this to be true) that there are gifts to cancer. I learned so much about life, relationships and myself through it all. Thanks for sharing your story sweet friend.

I hope your weekend has been a good one.

Hugs and love!
Kat

Painted Groove Girl said...

looks like you put things into perspective since the last time we talked. I just love both of you ... the heart is so big Deb and the meaner than a junkyard dog Deb. Thanks for blogging your guts out. When I think back on those six months, it's a blur for me too. Probably because I didn't want to imagine it was happening. I need to analyze that.

Me Too said...

nice for sharing my friend
may god bless u.....

Theresa said...

Thanks for sharing this piece of your history. You're right, it doesn't define who you are, however, it has helped make you who you are! And, just from getting to know you thru your blog, it seems like you are a pretty sensitive, caring person!!! ((HUGS))

LivingTheLife said...

Deb,
Thanks so much for sharing...and by doing so...I feel you've probably touched a lot more people than you realize...myself included...I don't know why but I've always found you to be such a special blogger friend...someone I connected with almost immediatley ( I always felt there was so much more to you than lavender fields and longhorns...I know call me "crazy" I just knew by some of your post that you have such a caring soul)...I've never had cancer and I pray I never do or that anyone else I love does...but I know b/c of gals like you...if it were to ever darken my door...I would pray like hell to take it by the horns...and with the help of God defeat it...my daughter has a rather rare condition that is heridetary...I won't bore anyone with it at this point...but as you said, it doesn't define who she is...it doesn't OWN her...but it has helped her become who she is...does that make sense??? It has shown her many things that most will never learn or it will take a lifetime to learn...so she has benefited...albeit not from anything she was thankful for having.

I think your epiphany about Jack was just what God intended...if I may be so bold...What a MAN you have...what he said to you about dealing w/cancer 10 years prior...I'm telling you...it had me crying like a baby...I can just imagine how it grabbed you...hang on to each other...you guys are really an awesome twosome...I look forward to meeting you both one day!

Blessings friend,
Teresa

Chrissie said...

Your story really blessed me - thank you so much...
God bless you, dear friend -
Chrissie

joan said...

Thanks so much for sharng your story. I'm sure that had to be hard to share. That was a good post for your 100th. Anyway thanks for sharing this.

Deborah said...

Cancer is something that has not touched me ... praying that it does not ... but your openess in telling your story did touch me.

Bless you and so happy that you are here!
Hugs,
Deborah

Lavender Chick said...

Hi everyone! I just wanted to say thanks for all the kind words. This was one of those posts that just poured out... But as soon as I clicked "publish" I started having second thoughts.

Thank you. That's all I can say, thanks...

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

You have touched so many lives with this little post.
Thank you , Thank you, Thank you!

100 more :-)

Design Block said...

I am re-routing my blog to www.designblock.net
It may take a couple of days. I will let you know when I am up & running

Melissa's Cozy Teacup said...

I'll have to come back and read more. When I read about your Aunt putting chapstick on your lips, I started to cry. What a touching image of love.