In the last week, I've had the chance to connect with so many more fantastic folks. Received heartfelt cards and emails full of love and prayers from people I hardly know. Had the chance to gather with amazing women friends. All pick-me-ups of the first degree. Whether it was the night out on the deck with a close group of local moms enjoying drunken goat cheese and being presented with a basket brimming with Cheetos (the Official Snack of Cancer, Round II), or eating and drinking for hours at Scampo with a group of my oldest "breast friends," I came away so fired up that I literally couldn't sleep when I got home each night.
Because it's like this: I think I've mentioned it before. When you get diagnosed with anything big, or anything major is happening in the tragedy-vein, you feel so alone. Woe. Is. You. No one could ever know your pain, your frustration, your terror. But when you get with the right people? An unexpected greeting card slips through the slot? Poof. Suddenly you feel like you can handle whatever comes your way.
I am now confident in my math: all of you + my own scrappy-moxie-bulldoggedness = this is possible.
Which brings me to the second subject tonight: aging. Today's my birthday. And trust me, I don't need a fuss made - I'm feeling self-conscious enough already about the fusses that have come before this day. But I bring it up because I just want to celebrate here that I made it to 42. And although I hear a lot of women groan about how awful it is to get older, I RELISH it. When I was first diagnosed at 32, the image that immediately came to mind was a giant marquee with "DEATH" in huge black caps, twinkling yellow lights around the edges. I was sure I was a goner. I was ready to cash in my 401K, opt out of my life insurance policies, recklessly carpe diem. And what happened instead? I lived through the horrendous. I got on with life, with living. With having a little child, with quitting a big job, with re-making a whole life. Heck, fast-forward a few and I even recently let myself dream of retirement (DI's, not mine. I'm actually celebrating my 10th year of retirement). I put cancer on the back-burner for nine and a half years and really, truly enjoyed myself.
It's been hard, then, the past month - feeling like that was all swept out from under me. But last night, one of my oldest breast cancer buddies leaned over to me and reminded me: whatever choice I make this time around, it needs to be one that I am comfortable living with for a long time. "'Cause remember", she said, "you'll be back at the place you were before . . . where this is in the past and you are enjoying your present again." She's right.
So cheers to years, people! The best just might be yet to come.