The year 2009 started as one of the best years of my life. I enjoyed early retirement from teaching to join my husband in his retirement, and spent the first winter in Florida at our newly purchased condo. We had officially become “snow birds” and it was a wonderful start to our new adventure. As the saying goes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” On December 29th, I would receive the phone call that would begin my “annus horriblus”. I had flunked my mammogram.
That call set into motion a whirlwind of events that would last 18 months and result in a double mastectomy, reconstruction, and hysterectomy. My diagnosis was bilateral breast cancer. Although Rightie (aka right breast) was the culprit that the mammogram had flagged, Leftie (aka left breast) was concealing a nearly 2cm invasive tumor. Sneaky…wasn’t she! Looking back, she had always been sort of a trouble maker. A sonogram ordered by my angelic nurse practitioner would prove to save my life.
Life after breast cancer can never be the same. As time passes, you begin to breathe a little easier, but you never stop looking over your shoulder for the beast to recur. I am blessed and have lived to see my older son marry and the arrival of two precious and beautiful grand-daughters. My children and grandchildren are my joy. My husband was my greatest supporter and cheerleader throughout my treatment, and still puts up with me when I get in a “funk”.
I have become passionate about advocacy work and try my best to live a healthy lifestyle. When I was teaching, my classroom theme was “Make a Difference”. I am trying to live up to that mantra. When I get anxious because I eat the wrong foods or drink too much, I turn to my two JC’s. Jesus Christ gives me strength, and I would not have survived without all the prayers that blessed me. Julia Child gives me inspiration since she was a breast cancer survivor who lived thirty-six years after diagnosis while eating and drinking anything she wanted. She also lived to be 92.
Carpe Diem and don’t sweat the small stuff!