Today of all days I open Facebook and hit the “On This Day” to cry my eyes out in between volunteering this morning to an evening ball (black tie event). A year ago I went public with the information that a mass had been discovered on my left ovary. The year ago me was worried, yet shrugged it off thinking it was benign. The current me thanks cancer for everything it has brought into my life (minus the medical bills). For the record, the mass was benign but my ovaries, uterus, and lymph nodes were not.
Tonight though, I got to celebrate, how fitting is that! I didn’t just get to celebrate with anyone either. I celebrated with the person who taught me how to do cancer in the first place. She picked me up off the floor almost a year ago and I owe so much of my strength to her now. It was fitting that she was by my side this evening. It was a beautiful event with an illusionist, arieal bartenders serving champagne, dancing, good food, and amazing company.
Since the middle of treatment I have served in a guild of women. There is something about the women that I serve with in the American Cancer Society Guild, they are genuine, freaking amazing women, they are R-E-A-L. They are my people and I got to introduce my life long friend and partner in cancer to them! I was also fortunate to have the lady who would not take no for an answer, who single handedly started our meal train through treatments, there to celebrate this evening, too!
Now let’s walk back to a year ago…The year ago me wasn’t breathing. I couldn’t catch my breath. Life was a whirlwind. I knew something was wrong but didn’t know exactly what. I had scheduled the surgery to remove my left ovary and the mass. I was terrified yet still thought that cancer could not happen to ME. Boy was I wrong. Surgery would not happen for another 10 days from a year ago and what was supposed to be a 45 minute surgery was 3 1/2 hours long.
This is the month that I have been dreading for a year. This month is my one year marker. It is HARD to look back, those pesky Facebook remembrances are hell on me this month. In an instant I can feel the me that hit the floor like a ton of bricks. I can also feel the euphoria today of celebration with the tears of a year ago at the crests of my eyes ready to pour out. All month long I will be somewhere in between the floor and the euphoria of today. This is the month where dates will forever be burned into my brain. November 14th was the day of my first surgery, the surgery that discovered that I had cancer. November 18th was the day I heard the words, “you have ovarian cancer” and the world that I once knew was forever changed.
The year ago me never would have thought that one day I would be thankful for cancer. Yet here I am today, thankful, grateful, and humbled by the very thing that brought me to my knees a year ago. Someone very dear to me taught me, don’t waste your cancer. We waste our cancer if we do not believe it is designed for us by God, sin as casually as before, and grieve as those who have no hope. Tonight I did not waste my cancer. I told a portion of my story on a card that was seated at every single table. Even though I felt like I drew the short straw with the word Courage to talk about I believe I did it justice. Courage for me was knowing that it’s ok to not be ok, that courage does not always roar. It was about getting through the bad days, celebrating the good days, and rejoicing to have either of them. It was about embracing the fear and not letting it stop me. #dontwasteyourcancer
Today was about celebration. Today was for me. This morning in volunteering to help set-up I was humbled, it was exactly where I wanted to be. I have volunteered with organizations throughout my life because my employer wanted me to spend my time in those areas, luckily for me they often times aligned with passions of mine in serving the homeless or helping to keep families in their homes. Since spring through today though was all ME, the American Cancer Society Guild was something I sought out, it was literally my heart in action. I stood back this afternoon as the room was starting to come together with tears in my eyes. Humbled.Broken.Healed.Content.Happy.Joyful. All of those things at once. I have never felt more at peace.
Cancer has and continues to teach me that I need to live life for me. Do things that bring me happiness. Embrace the difficult moments. Let loose and be carefree. Stop to ponder, smell the roses, and then get back to living. Cancer is the gift I never wanted yet never knew that I needed. Grateful that this is my life to live!
Raise those cabernet glasses to those who are yet to be diagnosed, those who have been diagnosed, and those who are up above keeping an eye on us. Tonight is for the survivors. Tonight is about giving back. Tonight is about funding research not just ribbons. Tonight will forever hold my heart. Cheers!