It’s my cancerversary this month. Twice. I was diagnosed with uterine cancer two years ago, and last year with stage 3 triple negative infiltrating ductal carcinoma metastatic breast cancer. Isn’t that a mouthful? Translation: tumors in my left breast and cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes and potentially my chest wall.
The uterine cancer was easily treated with surgery, laparoscopic even. Easy peasy. But this diagnosis one year later was… Life altering. I’d had a clean mammogram 12 months before. Working thru the treatment was not an option. As my oncologist put it, “this is going to be very hard, you will not be able to work for a year. The treatment will need all your attention.” And with this, a paradigm shift occurred. Welcome to Cancerland. I won a NOT all expenses paid trip – nine months consisting of infusions, surgery, radiation. The full spa treatment. I began chemotherapy less than two weeks after my diagnosis. I was so sick, so quickly, that much of it occurred in a blur. What a large dose of trauma, stress and anxiety! I had a great medical team, but what I didn’t hear from them was anything helpful regarding the day-to-day stuff. My husband, sister and mother were there with me every minute along the way, but, I still at times felt alone and isolated. Me, myself and I... so sick of everything Cancerland.
After months of being surrounded by nurses, doctors and coordinators, running from appointment to appointment, labs, scans and test results... you are suddenly, happily, pushed back into the world. But it’s often not the same, and sometimes it’s not even a world you recognize.
I’m three months post treatment - not cured, not all better, not all done. The re-entry is surreal, and complicated. The landscape has shifted. I recognize a few things, but I’ve been to places I can hardly describe to anyone else. Life is different. Life has changed. It’s difficult not to think of the “old” life – a life without pills, a life without pain, without daily naps. A life without looking over your shoulder to see if cancer is there creeping up.
In March of this year, my wonderful mutinous cancer group made a trip to Wellness Within for the weekly orientation. Honestly, I started with some preconceived notions about this type of program– was I really going to do this new-age, hippy-dippy stuff? It’s just not me. I’m more like tick tock MF move on and get over it. But I thought what the hell, I’ll try some classes.
All this month I’ve been thinking, how I can sum up in one word my experience with Wellness Within? And it’s this: serendipity. Webster’s defines it as a noun, “the faculty of making happy discoveries by accident.” Oh what a happy accident.
I have made Wellness Within my second home. I had found a place I didn’t know I needed. It was what I was aching for– this group of people who could just instantly get it, that I didn’t have to explain anything to. It filled the gap that the medical community just can’t. All of it was good, in every sense of the word. How can I thank you for being so endlessly kind and for giving me such an unforgettable experience? No day passed when I did not feel welcome and cherished. You never forget that sort of security and comfort. Wellness Within has, without barely saying a word, restored my tranquillity of mind, my sense of values. I send up a swift and heartfelt thank-you to the twist of fate that brought me here.
It’s the little things that matter, have you noticed? Those happy accidents. To this moment. To little things. That truly matter.