Christine’s Story: It is love that matters
This is the story of my cancer journey. I was diagnosed at the age of 42 with early stage breast cancer. The cancer was in my right breast, but I choose to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. Unfortunately, the reconstruction turned out to be a nightmare. I had six painful and emotionally draining surgeries. But eventually, I had my new breasts and the cancer was gone. It took two years to do that. It took another year to absorb all that had happened. By the fourth year, I had accepted it and was beginning to finally move on and stop being a recluse. I started to get out more, my young adult daughters where moving on with their lives and I became a grandmother. It seemed all was going to be ok.
It was the summer of 2011 when I noticed this small bump on my scalp, which wouldn't go away. Then, I noticed another one. Panic? No, not really. No one else was panicking, not even my doctors. A few months later, my right leg started to hurt. I limped around, picked it up to get out of the car and put all my weight on the other leg when climbing stairs. Still not worrying too much. Again, no one else seemed that concerned. "Oh, you're getting old. It's probably just arthritis!" I would hear. I finally saw a dermatologist for the bumps on my scalp and she said go to the surgeon and have them removed and biopsied. I was not happy about having to go in for surgery once again, but I did. One week later, back to the surgeon for the results. He walked in the room looking in his folder, glanced at me and said, "I'm sorry, it's cancer." Not just any cancer, but metastatic breast cancer. The cancer was in my spine, hips and pelvis, and had fractured my right femur. I thought I was going to die within a few months. I was terrified and cried myself to sleep many nights.
One year and two months later, I'm still alive. My treatments have given me great results and the last scan I had basically showed no evidence of disease. I don't "fight" my cancer. I don't put on a "positive" face. I've accepted that this cancer is part of my life journey. This is what was meant for me, and I'm not angry anymore. I cradle it, nurture it, and speak kindly to it. I learn from it. It's my body, it's me and why would I want to battle it? I am by no means a weak person. This is just the attitude I choose to handle my own cancer and it seems to be working for me. We all have our own ways and that's ok. I'm grateful that this journey is teaching me to have more compassion and empathy for other people - whether they have a disease or not. We should all cherish our days and make wonderful memories with those we love, regardless. In the end, it's only love that matters. ?
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