It is cause for celebration as today I am a 14-year breast cancer survivor. Here are some highlights (silver linings) of my journey…
I think one consideration of the marking of survivorship is upon surgical removal. So, let’s set the stage for what I recall then and how I arrived here today.
Leading up to surgery day was a remarkable event just a few days prior. My very close friend had a most unusual, but quite fitting, wedding. As the bride and groom were both pilots, in appropriate fashion, they were married in the sky in an air show setting. Guests could even be flown around the area by their pilot friends. A great distraction for sure!
As cheerful fate would also have it, my pregnant boss at the time went into labor and was in the hospital next door while I was in surgery! So, finding out she had delivered a baby girl was certainly a very happy diversion!
Then, as parties are perfect occasions of which to look forward, a few weeks after my surgery, I had an annual work awards celebration to attend. I strived to make sure to win an award each year so I could be invited to this fabulous party. What a great pleasure to get my hair done (couldn’t even do it myself at that point) and dress up.
I completed my treatments and met a lot of breast cancer survivors along the way in fourteen years. I listened to their stories and how they handled their treatments and were concerned about reoccurrence. Now, mind you, this is not scientific, but I started to see a common theme of stress with which I was quite familiar. I read about avoiding reoccurrence and learned some things I could do to lower my stress.
So, I continued to work out regularly, ate healthy--except for my chocolate chip cookie(s), and stopped drinking alcohol. I also learned biofeedback breathing and to mediate. Both of which is more normal than one would think. I also listen to calming music and limit the news. With good intentions and challenges, I sincerely attempt to stay organized, not only with paperwork (thanks to the digital age), but also by removing various types of clutter in life.
Overall, I would say that these life adaptations have helped and today, I am perhaps the healthiest, patient and calm that I have ever been. I am also following my dream of surrounding myself with fabric, designing and helping women at a trying time in their lives that they never asked for. My own MarlaHopeBra gets to be worn quite a bit these days, does yours? Also, to create something helpful for others right now, I designed the MarlaHopeMask and sport it every day.
I know this year has been one to truly forget, so once it is over, I will most definitely try to do just that. But in the meantime, and I do know how very difficult it can be most of the time, but let’s celebrate every day, stop to smell the roses and find something to enjoy. I’m a 14! What are you?