It was been the hardest, yet the happiest, year of my life. In case you missed it, after finding a cancerous lump in my breast (stage 1), and being diagnosed with the BRCA1 gene that is found to cause breast and ovarian cancer, I underwent a double mastectomy in June (no further cancer!), and a hysterectomy in January (no further cancer!). You might say I've been scarred FOR LIFE. The decision to undergo these preventative surgeries, with a positive outcome, has changed my view of life, for the better. I have faced most people's (and my) worst fears and come out swinging.
After the past year, here are some lessons learned:
- I no longer have a lot of tolerance for negative people, and people who complain all the time. Poisonous people just bring you down, and who needs that? Life is indeed too short to be surrounded by negativity.
- I appreciate my family and friends so much more. The people around me, near and far, have been so wonderful and supportive in the past year. It gives you a new appreciation for those people, and makes you realize how much you really do need them.
- I am more empathetic to those undergoing challenges and loss, and don't hesitate to reach out, make a phone call, make a meal, or send a card just to let them know I am thinking of them.
- I am incredibly blessed with my work situation and have wonderful coworkers.
- I cannot stand Pink Ribbon stuff and people who build their identities upon being a cancer survivor. To each his own, but, for me, I just want to put it behind me and move on. Having to talk about it just reminds me of it, and that just brings me down with all the "what ifs."
- The physical scars are nothing to dwell on because you can't change what needed to be done. When it comes down to it, it's all about how you look in a shirt, isn't it? 99.9% of the population does not know that my perfectly formed boobs are fake (nor do they need to know)!
- Life is too short to not take a great vacation. This lesson is in theory only as we will not be able to take a really great vacation until the kids are out of college, but...someday!
- If you are going to complain about something and not do anything about it, then you've lost the right to complain about it. This is a little like the negativity item, except it's more about "putting your money where your mouth is" or, as some like to say, "Sh*t or get off the pot."
Most of these items all come back to: LIFE IS SHORT. LIVE IN THE MOMENT, AND MAKE THE MOST OF IT. Don't waste precious time being negative or dwelling on things you can't control.
What a ride this last year has been. So much fear, so much love, so much hope!