One year ago today, my life changed forever.
One year ago today, I got the news no one ever wants to get: “You have cancer.”
My first “cancerversary,” as it’s called by so many who’ve dealt with this nasty disease, felt almost like groundhog day. Last year, when I got the news, I was en route to Chicago for a business trip. The thing is, it’s a trip I make every year at the same time. So, once again, I’m in Chicago. And I feel almost like I’ve been reliving the events of last year.
Just like last year, I spent my layover in the Atlanta airport. And I spent today walking the furniture market in Chicago. I’m staying in the same hotel. Even the weather is eerily the same–hot and stormy.
Looking around this hotel room that looks exactly like the one I retreated to last year, those feelings of terror and despair feel closer to me than they have in a while. And yet, in this same space, I remember good things, too.
In that first awful night after getting the news, I holed up in my room to wallow. I cried–my body heaving with sobs that left me practically breathless. And then, I began to pray.
I’m not a particularly religious person. I don’t go to church. I don’t read the Bible regularly. But, I’m definitely a spiritual person. I pray a lot. I talk to God. And I have a pretty strong relationship with him.
That night, I begged. I bargained. I reasoned. “Please don’t take me now. My son still needs me. Please let me see him grow up.”
And in the midst of my agony, I suddenly felt calm. A strange feeling of peace washed over me, and somehow, I knew everything would be OK.
While some will say it was merely my mind playing tricks on me or whatever, I truly felt it was God letting me know things would be alright.
I’ve carried that moment with me throughout this past year. When things got really hard, and I feared the absolute worst, I returned to that night in this hotel. That moment of peace has sustained me through this ordeal. And though I’m still fearful, I keep that peace with me to calm the worry and anxiety that simmers deep within.
I’ve lost a lot this past year: My breasts, my hair, my ovaries, my peace of mind. I lost my innocence in the sense that I no longer trust my own body. It has betrayed me, and I’ll never be able to feel an ache or pain without that voice in my head wondering if it’s a sign of something much worse.
But I’m still here. And while I’ve lost so much, I’ve gained so many things, too. Perspective. A new sense of gratitude. A renewed appreciation for the gift of life. The knowledge that I am stronger than I ever thought.
Today has certainly been bittersweet, but mostly, it’s been a good day. I’m thankful to be here. To be well. To be alive. And for today, that’s enough.