Sparks of Joy

Pardon the title–I promise this isn’t about Marie Kondo.

Today I had my annual checkup with my surgical oncologist, who performed my mastectomy. It’s totally routine, but even the most ordinary of appointments can feel fraught after cancer.

Visiting my surgeon’s office is especially triggering, since it’s housed in the same building as the breast center where I had my first ultrasound and biopsy, the first moments I realized that lump was more than just a cyst. Just driving into the parking deck makes me nervous.

But today’s visit was pretty much the exact opposite of that day.

Me, my snazzy granny drape and some intestines.

After the usual intake routine, I was shown to an exam room and given one of the little drapes to cover your bare chest. These always crack me up because they look like little shawls made of the curtains from someone’s granny’s house.

But I digress.

After performing his exam, my surgeon declared everything looked and felt great–no weird bumps or lumps on my chest or my lymph nodes. Great news!

Once I was all covered up, we chatted a bit about my checkup schedules, as well as the challenges of parenting small children (he has a three-year-old).

Before leaving the room, he shook my hand and told me how much he enjoys these appintments as opposed to those first ones when things are so scary. Since the moment he happily delivered the news that my post-surgery pathology was clean (I swear I could hear him smiling through the phone that day), he’s always seemed so genuinely happy and excited to see me doing well.

I couldn’t help thinking how hard his job must be–delivering terrible news on a regular basis, coming up short sometimes no matter how hard you try (because cancer is a beast), seeing women about your age with kids around the age of yours feeling utter devastation at such a terrifying diagnosis. It has to weigh on the soul.

And even though I really have very little control over how my situation turned out, I’m glad to be able to bring him even the slightest bit of joy. Honestly, after all he’s done for me, it’s the least I could do.

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Looking Forward

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A friend of mine posted this on Facebook the other day, and it kind of blew me away at how completely spot-on it is for my life.

In 2014, I was completely transformed, getting pregnant and giving birth to my son. The following year was completely eye-opening as I settled into motherhood and transitioned to a new role at my job.

Then came 2016. Fuck, 2016. The death of loved ones. Watching friends endure unbearably painful experiences of loss. The election. Cancer.

In 2017, I had to rebuild, mentally and physically. It was a long, incredibly difficult process (and I’m still working on it).

I was nervous for 2018, but it has been a year of growth in so many ways. I’ve gotten to a pretty good place mentally. I still have tough days, but overall, I’m doing so much better. And I’ve achieved some goals in my professional life, and I feel inspired and excited for what the coming year may hold for that part of my life.

So on this 2019 eve, I feel happy. Hopeful. Ready.

I wish you all a fantastic new year full of good health, happiness and prosperity. Here’s to 2019! May it treat us all well!