I had a perfect life. I knew it was good too. I appreciated it but still let the little things get to me. Why wasn’t I out there every day with the sunrise going on bike rides, swimming in the bay, running on the beach? The thing I didn’t realize in my perfect little life was how lucky I was to be healthy.
I had always been healthy. I took it for granted. Why wouldn’t I be healthy? I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I don’t even drink coffee. I don’t have allergies and I definitely don’t stand in front of the microwave. Sure, wine, burritos, pizza, and pineapple fried rice are definitely on the weekly rotation but whatever, I work out. I’ve been a runner since forever. What’s the worst that could happen to me? Cancer? It never even crossed my mind.
Until it did.
A little over a month ago I was laying in bed when I felt a lump in my left breast. Surely it was nothing; perhaps I bumped it on something? Bruises can feel like lumps— that had to be it. My boyfriend made me promise to make an appointment to get it checked out. I hadn’t been to the doctor since the last time I went to Planned Parenthood because I needed a doctor’s note to call in sick to work, so I obliged. I’d get an annual checkup too. Kill two birds with one stone here. Time is money.
I make an appointment, and then, yikes! the doc wants to schedule me a mammogram. And then an ultrasound where I kept my eyes closed the whole time because I wanted my first ultrasound to be when I’m pregnant with a baby in my belly, damnit!
Then, while I’m still on the table, they come in and want to do a biopsy. Like stat.
A few days later I get the life-altering call. I OFFICIALLY HAVE BREAST CANCER. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, ER+, PR+, and HER2+. I’m 33. It doesn’t run in my family. How did I get CANCER!?! I’m healthy, remember?!?
My life becomes a blur: there are meetings with doctors, the word chemo gets thrown in the mix, my mom faints, there are MRI’s, more biopsies, and then, suddenly, I’m on a table in a gown, completely numb, getting a port-a-cath installed inside my chest like a robot.
How is this happening to my perfect life?
The day after my robot installation I start chemo. I sit in a room on a pink La-Z-Boy with a bunch of other cancer patients— our infusions all slowly dripping into our matching ports. Everyone is overly nice because I’m young and they feel bad. Everyone feels bad. Flowers are delivered and my support crew gets to come in and sit with me. My brother makes friends with a lady who swears by weed oil and together they discuss in great detail the joy of Del Taco’s 99 cent Bean and Cheese Burritos. Another woman is celebrating her last treatment in a colorful clown wig and she entertains me with her cancer tales. I leave in good spirits, albeit tenderly, knowing that any minute the effects of the poison (robot juice) will hit me like a toxic truck.
Over the next few days I lose my appetite and 11 pounds. Nothing tastes good to my taste buds anymore except for Cheez-Its and those annihilate my newly sensitive tongue. My legs feel as though I’ve run a marathon and whenever my cat scratches me I Google “cat scratch infections” and feel as though I should just turn my whole body into the ER for science. I also can’t stand the smell of my own breath… and, like most everyone else, I breathe constantly.
But still, I have to move on, I have to accept the changes that have been thrown my way. What else can I do?
My life may not be as perfect as it once was, but it’s still pretty dang perfect. I still have everything that made it so good before. I still have my arms, I still have my legs, and I still (at the moment at least) even have my hair. I still have my family, I still have my boyfriend, and I still have that possibly evil cat of mine.
This is going to suck for a while for sure, but I’m going to get through it. Maybe I won’t be running on the beach tomorrow morning, but the sun is still going to rise and I can either be pouting under the covers dreaming about my life BC, or I can get up, have a green tea on the patio and fully soak in the perfect-ness of the morning’s moments.
We’re all here another day so enjoy it. Appreciate it. Tomorrow everything can change in an instant so make now as good as it can possibly get.
Don’t wait until cancer’s there knocking on the door to remind you.
*As seen on Keep-A-Breast.org