Happy February 9th! For me, this marks one year since I received my official breast cancer diagnosis. The days before and after this were a whirlwind of blood tests, imaging, biopsies, physician consults, and of course phone calls. It took me a while before I got comfortable even saying the “cancer” word out loud. It felt like a giant marble in my mouth. It was definitely a reality that was hard to come to terms with, mostly because we had no idea what to really expect or how things would unfold.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have been a wreck. This last year was harder than hard and darker than dark. But what kept me afloat most days was the overwhelming love and support I found here through all of you. Almost everyone I come into contact with offers love and support. That’s a major shift from life pre-diagnosis. We had our friends and family then, yes, and we knew we were loved. But this year, this mess, it has revealed to us love and community beyond any measure of our imagination. I know a lot of us are struggling through difficult days, but if I could give you anything it would be this lense through which I will always now see the world.
We live in a time where we are trained to look for the threats. It helps us survive, it helps us make decisions that protect us and the ones we love. But it is also very heavy. It is a lot of work to continue to scan the horizon for new dangers and to feel vulnerable and powerless and afraid and frustrated in the moment. When I am in that space it leaves me feeling tired, overwhelmed, hopeless and fearful. Cancer is one long exercise in navigating those heavy moments, and here is what I know.
Love wins every time. Our power to reach out and connect with one another and lift each other up is the most awesome power on earth. We have, through our ability to extend compassion and kindness toward one another, the ability to influence lives and hold one another’s hearts in our loving hands. My life has been so moved. It has been lifted up and celebrated and I have been reminded of what a beautiful gift it is. Time and time again people have revealed to me who they truly are- deeply flawed, struggling, unsure, beautiful souls whose bedrock is kindness and good.
I know I screw a lot of things up. I know I am not the zen, meditative, pure vessel I wish I could be. But I have my moments. And I keep striving to have more moments. It has been by you and through your love that I have had the opportunity to pursue them at all. So for that, I have to say a deep “thank you.”
Instead of sadness or grief in this moment, I am charged up with gratitude. Gratitude for the love that has been shown to me this past year. Gratitude for the advancements in science and medicine that allow me to be here still. Gratitude for the opportunity to crack open my heart and soul and let the light shine in.
Today, I celebrate. I am alive, I have walked a mighty journey and it has been a triumph. The love and support I have been so generously given has forged a strength in my soul that is second to none. With it, all things are possible. There is still more work to be done, but looking back I know I will persist, I will endure, and I will rise. Always.
Give ‘Em Hell