As I reflect on the month of June, I see it as my “rebirth,” as four years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer, and my life has not been the same ever since.
Four years ago, on June 27, 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. On that date, a part of me died, and I can’t ever get it back — a piece of my heart, soul and being lost forever. I’ve made peace with this and settled on not ever returning to me again.
So many people have asked me how did I ever make peace with what I lost? For me, the answer is gratitude.
About a year after being diagnosed, my port exploded into a million tiny pieces, and it shouldn’t have happened that way, but it did. A nurse was flushing my port, just like any other flushing, and when she inserted the needle, it broke the catheter and port itself. Next thing I knew, I had a skin pocket balloon of saline above my port and extreme pain.
I ended up needing emergency surgery, and nearly died while having that surgery. What started as a simple surgery with local anesthesia turned out to be the scariest ride of my life at that point. A piece of broken plastic was lodged above my right ventricle, and to put it lightly, a team of careful and skilled intravenous radiologists went on a fishing expedition.
Due to my port explosion, I now have two scars from my port, and so much scar tissue. However, I gained so much grit and gratitude for the care team who saved my life.
All of this happened to me before I was “officially” diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. This happened before we even knew just how crazy life would become. Here with this surgery, I thought I had seen the worst of it, and I remember being changed from that experience.
Every year, I call June me “rebirth.” I was born again, into somebody new, and now I’m here four years later, still alive, stable, and entirely grateful. Old me and “new” me are not a ton different, but I value things so much differently. I let go of things easily, and I don’t let my fears stop me.
June is a powerful month for me because it is energizing, and a reminder that gratitude is powerful. My breast cancer isn’t going anywhere and it’s impossible to make decisions without it. Yet, deep down, I do not let it stop me from accomplishing things that I want to do. We still go on trips in our RV, I still work out at the gym with a modified plan, and I still can live my life mostly in how I used to live it.
My therapist has told me I’m productive with managing my “anger” from cancer and that I’ve turned it into something extremely healthy. In all honesty, I’m a do-er and a fighter —and that’s part of the “old me.”
Grit isn’t easy to manage but it’s my constant source of comparison. It’s how I get through my bad days and when fatigue and exhaustion kick in, I know I’ve battled worse. My attitude of gratitude kicks in every day when I feel low because there are so many warriors at stage four who haven’t made it to four years of survival.
Rebirth in June is how I find some peace and continue to advocate for other cancer warriors. Happy Birthday to New Me — four years of living and breathing, four trips around the sun and four life-changing years.
Here’s to many more to come!
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