March 3, 2017 – My best friend Terri and I walked out of the surgeon’s office with a sheet of paper clutched in my hand, knowing for a fact that I had breast cancer. The report said so. Highly invasive ductal carcinoma. My body, mind and soul had known a little longer. Dr. X was completely honest from the beginning … it was cancer. We just didn’t know it was Triple Negative Breast Cancer on a Pink Dot Detour !
Life as I knew it crashed to a screeching halt. Work, life, love, parenthood, friendships, dreams, exercise, health, rescue … EVERYTHING. GONE. Well, not all gone, but definitely put on the shelf. With a best before date.
This journey is painstakingly slow … Each day drifts in and out of consciousness with unusual milestones.
- I had breast surgery and rejoiced that I could still feel my right arm.
- I was happy to have one smaller breast with a five-inch scar starting at the nipple and another three-inch gash up my armpit.
- I had every nook and cranny of my body scanned. They know all my secrets and where I hide them.
- I received so much radiation that I couldn’t go near government offices.
- I had highly corrosive and toxic drugs pumped into my veins and heart.
- My cells died.
- My cells came back to life.
- I spent a total of ten days in the hospital with an angry, red breast.
- What if the chemo was more thorough on my hair than on my cancer?
- I worried so much I threw up.
- I stopped worrying.
- I cried so hard that I hyperventilated.
- I stopped crying.
- I measured my dog walks in steps vs kilometres.
- I watched as everyone went to see the fireworks without me.
- I counted the tiles on my bathroom floor.
This journey is speed-of-light fast … WHERE has the time gone? On June 3rd, it will be three months since I was diagnosed. I *MUST* have something done on my bucket list within nine days or my perfectionist self will feel as if I have wasted time. Sure … I know. I have been busy being Wonder Woman and fighting cancer. But that isn’t enough. My Short Term Disability (STD) is half over. Will I be ready to return to work in three months? No. But I can’t afford not to. The fatigue is collective and I am told that I will be utterly and completely exhausted months past radiation, which is due to be completed the first week of October.
What did I want to accomplish for ME???
I want to regain my healthy lifestyle.
I want to take an oil painting class.
I want to reconnect with my spiritual side.
I want to write.
I want to catch my breath at the beauty of life.
I want to reconnect with the most important people.
I want to take my annual photography tour of Toronto.
I want to learn how to meditate.
I want to take Matthew on a real vacation.
I want to read all the classics that I missed.
If you knew your days were numbered, would you want to miss one glorious sunset?
I want to wake to the most beautiful sunrise.
I want to feel the snow on my face once again. What if I am gone before then?
I want to learn a completely new skill.
I want to make a difference in someone’s life.
I want to find him.
I want to get a degree in English or Fine Arts. Those degrees seemed so worthless long ago but they withstand the test of time.
I want to KNOW God.
I want to survive.
I want to learn how to knit SUPER CHUNKY Knit Blankets like this one (any local knitters who can teach me how?):
I’ve wasted time just like I wasted fifty years. Stuck in being … not doing. What the fuck am I doing wasting more time? Like I have 50 years left. I don’t.
What do *I* want to do in the next five years? Five months? Five days?
Bucket list. Write the entire bucket list.
Live as much of it as I can. Sure, there will be a few things that will be hard to achieve … but let’s enable rather than say “I can’t.”
What are you saying you can’t do?
“Death commences too early–almost before you’re half-acquainted with life–you meet the other.” – Tennesee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
“I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.” – William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
“For life be, after all, only a waitin’ for somethin’ else than what we’re doin’; and death be all that we can rightly depend on.” – Bram Stocker, Dracula
“… death is the price of life.” – George Orwell
“Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.” – William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
“And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned to a pillar of salt. So it goes. People aren’t supposed to look back. I’m certainly not going to do it anymore.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
“So much the worse for those who fear wine, for it is because they have bad thoughts which they are afraid the liquor will extract from their hearts…The wicked are great drinkers of water; As the flood proved once for all.” – Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
Live fully before the last rites,