4 years ago today was the start of the Winter Olympics. 4 years ago today was also the day that my life got turned upside down and changed the course of everything. My life's trajectory became derailed, uncertain, and my life became scarily finite. 4 years ago today I was diagnosed with MBC. It's almost as if the “old me” died and I had to completely figure out who I would now be. How long would I even be alive for? What would ongoing treatments do to my body and quality of life? And the notorious what the fuck just happened whirled through my head?! How could life change so drastically in one single moment.
Statistically speaking, I have already lived past the typical 2-3year survival rate noted for those diagnosed with MBC. Part of me feels thankful and happy and part of me constantly asks why were others not as lucky? Why am I still here and why are my many friends gone in a matter of months? I know I will never know the answer, but it's still one I constantly question.
My life is different now. The things I find important, and that which I find stressful, pales in comparison to the things I now allow myself to stress about. Death is the greatest fear and when I look at the things that I used to worry about, or listen to others daily struggles (late to work, spilled coffee, stuck in traffic, I have a cold, work was too busy, etc..) I simply laugh at the silly and mundane nature of these “troubles.” It amazes me that we live in a world of opportunity but the only REAL barrier to achieving what we want is truly our health. If you want something bad enough you go and get it! Don't complain but DO. If you're waiting to be spoon-fed opportunity then you are delusional. When death becomes your greatest barrier, fear becomes a relative term.
Every year I am thankful for simply being alive. For being able to watch my nieces and nephew grow into amazing little people. Another year I get to spend with my husband, exploring the world, and simply being in each others presence doing everyday things that I no longer take for granted. Another year that I appreciate just how much my mom has done for me and my family from cooking to cleaning to coming to appointments...no mother should have to constantly worry that they will outlive their child; that eats away at my heart because this disease doesn't just affect me. It affects my entire family and creates a type of stress I can not even put into words. The constant uncertainty of when the other proverbial shoe will drop. It makes you more humbled, but also scares the complete and utter shit out of you. As much as having MBC has opened my eyes to the fragility of life it has also made me more aware of appreciating even the tiniest of “good” that may shine through in midst of the storm of some pretty crappy days.
4 years I honestly didn't think I might make especially after I first heard I had brain mets. Cancer in my brain truly made me think that my life span would be much shorter, but yet here I am. My brain, as of my last scans, is clear. Essentially, nothing noted to be growing. Obviously, I am aware that this can change ever so swiftly, but RIGHT NOW I am good. I am thankful to see the snow fall outside, to see every giggle and smile, and embrace every big hug and kiss my nephew places on me; a milestone when he was born just over three years ago, I never thought I would be alive to still be apart of. To watch my middle niece excel in gymnastics and basically any sport she tries. She reminds me of my youth and the times my body could do just a little bit more. To seeing my oldest niece become a teenager and turn into a smart, empathetic, and kind person. These are the things I am thankful for. These are truly the only things that matter to me.
At this point in my life I really just want to see changes in respect to MBC. I don't (I CAN'T) keep watching so many beautiful people continue to succumb to this disease, leaving behind children, spouses, friends, and family too soon. Something has got to give. We need better therapies that can extend our lives. We need government and pharma to hear us, and collaborate with patients to help change the landscape of this disease. We need to hold them accountable as sadly this could be any of us. To understand that delays in access to treatments are killing Canadians. I don't want others to need to care when it's them or their loved ones because at that point it may be too late. Nobody wants to talk about stage IV, incurable disease, as it doesn't evoke “happy” feelings or the sense of survivorship and moving on. We, with MBC, don't get that luxury to move on. We are in a cycle of getting scanned regularly with the knowledge that the next scan may be the one that completely derails our life further towards death. Yes, it's terrible and depressing, but yet it's our reality. If we continue to live in our bubble of positivity and ignore those that are dying we are contributing to the problem by being dismissive. Many of us don't complain but simply try to put our energy into living as complaining changes nothing. With that, I truly hope that for all those who have their health today that you can take value away from knowing that you are living a life full of promise and opportunity..something that many, TOO MANY, others never got the chance to. Life is short, but it's up to us to give it meaning.
Just a few (or maybe two dozen) pics from the last 4 years...
This photo may just look like a selfie but this was my first infusion days after finding out my cancer had recurred and was no longer deemed curable. Smiling amidst the never-ending tears......
Watching these girls grow into beautiful little people has been a privilege in my life
Scans..scans...and more scans! The life of a metster and of never ending appointments and waiting. Waiting has become a part time job! Not having control over your own life, and sitting in waiting rooms with people twice your age doesn't evoke a warm and happy feeling...such is life
My supportive hubby. Love him and his patience with his 32yr old menopausal wife, lol. This was not the life either of us envisioned but I think we are making the most of it and I would never choose to do life with anyone but him:)
Another New Year and just another day to celebrate life with those I love the most
Oh this BOY!!! He has gone from this tiny babe to a 3yr old who is sweet, strong, and loves to be naked, lol. I feel immensely blessed to continue to watch him grow into a toddler I adore
Enjoying life in Hawaii
Perfection on vacation
1st dose of Xeloda..I am beyond thankful that this chemo has controlled my cancer for 2.5year now!!!!
Oh Tykerb...this is how I felt for the two years you destroyed my guts and left me in so much pain. I don't miss you. At all!!
The joys of never-ending scans. In between living it is the pause that makes me stop and realize how quickly everything can change
Having the opportunity to go to a Blue Jays game
My mom. The most selfless person I have ever met. I am beyond thankful that I won the mom lottery with this one!!
Alive to do silly pics like this, lol
Just hanging out in Central park
Central Park, NYC
Never lose hope
Going to Broadway!
Self explanatory...its my husband people don't worry
I bought a dog in the midst of these years...I love her:)
Always enjoy life...in moderation...or just do whatever makes you happy:)
Treatment #2 of Herceptin. Thankful for this life extending therapy
And just live as noted above:)