Nine Years Ago

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This week’s celebration is easy. Thank you Ruth Ayers for holding a space for our celebrations of all sorts.

Nine years ago today, at 43 years of age, I sat in a medical office and heard Dr. David Chan tell me I had breast cancer, and it was going to be a long and difficult year, and I would most likely make it out on the other side, okay.

All I heard was the word CANCER. I thought I was going to die. I was sort of prepared– I had felt something that was not there the month before. And the radiologist the week before was pretty obviously looking at something really ugly inside my breast with her ultrasound wand. And the biopsy was pretty frightening too. But hearing the actual words, well– it freaked me out. “Can someone get me some water?”

“This is not the time to panic,” he said. He was sort of stern with me, geez. I knew immediately that he was the doc for me, and I asked the nurse/counselor/hand-holder if she could arrange to get me channeled to his office. She would try. A week later I was in his office, hearing the plan.

I remember walking down the hall to his office. A young and bald woman was standing in the appointment line, and we locked eyes. Her gaze was a bit defiant, a bit sympathetic, and a bit of “I look like you will soon…”

I lost every single hair on my body. Yep, every single one.

I slept a lot.

My colleagues made dinner for me and my family.

I taught second grade every day except when I had chemo on Fridays.

I learned that I was deeply loved.

My friends held me close. They cried a lot too.

My family held me closer.

When I told my nine year old daughter that one of the things that was going to happen to me was I was going to have surgery to remove my left breast, she gasped and asked me if I had told dad yet. I assured her he would be okay, and that he was more of a butt man anyway.

I learned that I was really strong.

People prayed for me.

People knitted hats for me (do you know how cold your head gets without hair?)

I gave thanks for Western medicine and also gratefully experienced Reiki and visualization, yoga, and support groups.

I met some of the finest and strongest human beings I have ever known.

I lost a boob.

I gained an understanding of the fragility of life. And thus the beauty and value of each moment.

I recognize the bravery and honesty with which every person with cancer lives.

I am still here.

I hope it never comes back.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Nine Years Ago

  1. What an amazing celebration! You can hear your strength in your voice along with your victory! Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. Cathy… I remember your sadness and your loss and your strength. Nine years ago. Those years bring many changes. Life happens in twists and turns we cannot imagine. I am so glad you are here and you are strong and you are well. You are a gift to so many in myriad ways. Thank you for sharing your story. ❤️

  3. Your celebration is the kind I admire — the genuine gritty celebration that wraps around a heart and tugs. Your writing, , the way you weave the story — the writing is the kind I respect and love to read. You wrap words around this celebration in a way that leaves the reader’s heart stinging and celebrating all at the same time. Thank you for taking the time to celebrate. Thank you for the gift of sharing your story.
    Write on,
    Ruth

  4. Thanks for sharing your victory celebration…I’m glad to read that you won! You are a champion of bravery!

  5. What strength you have! Your spirit is a true celebration. Your story made me stop and give thanks for good health. Thank you for sharing it.
    Jennifer

  6. Your story touches every part of me and your writing is amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Thank you for telling your story and sharing your celebration. You are one courageous woman.

  8. And all of us who will read this will CELEBRATE with you today – a wonderful story about strength and love, friends and family, and hanging on during the really rough spots of life. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us to celebrate today.

  9. Terje

    I celebrate your strength and victory. You write about a topic that is not easy. Thank you for your trust in your readers to write this post.

  10. Andee Zomerman

    Worth celebrating. Hooray!

  11. I have been with a friend with this experience, and it is so real, the way you wrote it, the good things realized with it, and the bad, too. Thank you for sharing the personal story. It helps all of us gain strength through your wisdom. Celebrate those 9 years!

  12. So much to take in, reflect on, and then share so beautifully. Like Dayna I remember and it’s hard for me to look back on. As Ruth said your writing stings, pulls and in the end celebrates. And yes, you are really strong! Thank you for sharing.

  13. Doesn’t that say something about the way society taught me to think that at nine years old when we found out you had to have surgery, I was worried what dad would think?

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