What does one year later really mean? I am fast approaching that magical one year anniversary from the day I said goodbye to my breasts, “my girls” as my friends often called them… I said goodbye with purpose, with celebration, with a clear mind that I was making the choice which I felt was right for me and for my family. I don’t regret my decision in the least.
I was told in my many pre-surgery and post-surgery appointments and check-ups that it would take a full year before I felt like myself again. I smiled and nodded while inside, my Type A personality was laughing at them all. A year? I knew it would only be a few months, if that, before I was in full swing again. Oh the arrogance. A year.
It has been a rough one. Mastectomies in November 2010, reconstruction in January 2011, final touches in May 2011. In between I caught the flu and was hit hard. Finally as I started to feel like myself this past August I slipped and fractured my spine…down again. I did not believe I would be so affected. I slipped into a depression at my lack of productivity. People with Sunshine Affective Disorder need sun, people with Type A disorder need to be productive. I felt I was anything but productive.
As I reflect back on the year I can see the places where I was productive. I did a lot of work for the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. I developed materials, I led workshops – some mere days after surgery, I touched children’s lives. I taught scores of awesome young entrepreneurs at Metro and helped them along their path to launching their dreams…And yet, I feel like I lost a year of my life.
As all of the pink ribbons came out this year in celebration of survivors and in a desperate search to find a cure…I felt uncomfortable, that nagging feeling of “where do I fit in” rose again to the surface. Am I a survivor? Am I a warrior? Am I… what? My step-son and husband tossed around the idea of running the Race for the Cure in my honor…I felt a lump of discomfort in my throat. I should have felt loved and proud…but I once again felt confused.
The depression that I suffered towards the end of my recovery was intense. I will never forget the morning I woke up and told my new husband that I did not want to live anymore. Everything was dark around me. I knew it was in my mind, I knew it. I love my children and my family and am blessed to have the partner of my dreams, I certainly did not want to hurt them or leave them, but I was so depressed. My husband stayed home from work that day and I began intense therapy.
A year. My body is still foreign to me. I don’t recognize it when I see it in the mirror. My drive is still there and I am learning how to not try to chew off everything in one bite. My nature makes me feel an intense need to make up for a year lost. I am working to see it as a year of investment in my self, investment in the health of my body and family. My brain (and my husband) tells me that is what it was, a year of self care.
And, in the grand scheme of things we are talking about one year, one year which is truly a blink of the eye. One year where I took the reigns and said: if I can avoid it, I will not succumb to disease. I will not wait, I will not give away control. If I have been given the chance to choose…I choose life.
I like the vision of the warrior and while my battle ground is vastly different than many I feel I have come through, scarred, bruised and changed, but my spirit is still my own and with love and focus it will bring me back to the me I work to be.