One year ago today Houston, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surrounded by a medical team of 4 people in a small dark procedure room that barely fit the hospital bed, I did my best to practice deep breathing to keep my anxiety low and not panic while undergoing a biopsy procedure. At the time that was probably the most traumatic biopsy I’d ever had because the doctor had to sample an internal lymph node under my sternum with what I thought was a long thick needle. I had no idea what was coming in the year ahead.
I guess at this point I had come to the realization that something was dreadfully wrong because the doctor was even taking that sample but hearing his findings felt even more traumatic. It was a surreal moment in which I couldn’t truly process what was being said. Afterward I just kind of shuffled along where they told me to finish out a long day before returning to an empty hotel room where I was alone with my thoughts about what this would mean for the near future. I was alone. I wasn’t supposed to be, but I was alone. After a long day at MD Anderson facilities and receiving earth-shattering news, there was no one waiting for me, no one to put their arms around me, no one there present to console me. I came back and lay down to ice my breast and sleep. I never felt so alone in my entire life. Over the next two months, I would have to show up for myself over and over. I would go alone to many appointments and diagnostics firsts that to me were scary as hell before finally learning my cancer type, staging, grade, and action plan. I’d practice my deep belly breathing to calm my anxiety. I put on a brave face because I didn’t want my family to worry. I didn’t tell extended family until I had all the information I needed to answer their many questions. I remember my friends that I still talk to daily letting me vent my fears until I could share with everyone.
I have had to show up for myself a lot this past year. I am still learning to show up for myself. You see, I am a people pleaser, and I will bend over backward to make someone else happy to my own detriment. I will give and give and give out of loyalty until there’s nothing left even when it hurts me. As I look back on the year in wonder searching for reasons why this is part of my journey here, I wonder if God is just trying to teach me to show up for myself. I still feel lost many days and don’t know where this path is leading. Perhaps I’m too pensive a person and seeking meaning in all this is futile. Perhaps I should just be happy to be alive and keep doing the same thing I always have, but somehow I keep thinking there is supposed to be more. It’s not that I’m sad every day, I am not. These days I am grateful and happy many more days than not especially as my health is getting better after having it’s limits pushed to extremes; but, I do feel something pulling at me. Anyway, it’s one year later. Feels like it’s been 10. June 16th. Diagnosis day. Maybe someday soon I’ll figure it out, until then I’ll stick with the mantra that has served me well and that is to just keep going.