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Sometimes writing blog posts for things to do with breast cancer are hard for me to write. Not because I don’t want to talk about my experience, but because I don’t feel as though I have that much to offer. And, because I am also a firm believer that every single experience with breast cancer is different, I never want to say anything that will make someone doubt a decision that they’ve made or be fearful of what might come their way.
But the other side of that is that I’ve received so much good from reading other people’s blogs and tips and following their Instagram accounts, so I do want to try to share as much as I can in the hope that it will help someone else.
So, what to write?
Today I have decided to write about something that isn’t specifically related to breast cancer or the current pandemic, but I think it can help a bit with both. Maybe not for everyone, but hopefully for a few people who read it.
Many of my friends have heard this story a few times, but I really like to tell it because it reminds me to stay adventurous no matter what the situation.
Here’s the story, short and sweet.
Once when my husband, our daughter who was still pretty young, maybe 4 years old, and I were driving someplace. I can’t even remember where anymore, but I was driving and it seemed like we had taken a wrong turn or something and my husband said “ I think we’re lost”. Then, from the back seat, my daughter said, “No Daddy, you get lost, mommy goes on adventures”. At the time we just laughed and I explained that whenever I am not sure where I am exactly I tell her that we are on an adventure, so it seems fun and exciting and not scary. When you are little, lost is a big scary concept.
But even now, many years later, I love that this is how my daughter saw me. Even if my adventures were wrong turns on the streets of Los Angeles, that made us late or almost run out of gas or resulted in a surprise stop for a donut or ice cream to make the adventure seem that much more exciting. They were adventures nonetheless.
Being lost is such an unsettling and scary feeling. For me, it means that I have lost control of things that are going wrong. I don’t know where I am, where I am going or how to fix it.
But an adventure, now that means I am figuring it out, discovering new things, overcoming obstacles. It might be hard, it might not go the way I thought it would, but at least I have some say in what is happening or what direction we’re going. I’m on an adventure!
So, what does this have to do with breast cancer? Or the pandemic? Or the fact that I have hardly been out of the house since March?
Well, for me, remembering that it’s all part of a big adventure makes all these things seem just a wee bit more fun and a whole lot less scary. It’s just one part of a bigger adventure and not an endless sense of being lost with no idea where it might go and if it will end.
When I was first told I had breast cancer my first thought wasn’t to be scared. I’d love to say I was prepared for an adventure, but that wasn’t the case at all. I was just in shock and couldn’t quite process the whole thing. I felt lost and didn’t know what to do or how to plan for it. I just drifted along doing whatever I was told to do by the doctors.
But as things went on, chemo started and I felt terrible, couldn’t leave the house, and couldn’t see anyone. I did try to remind myself often that I could choose how to look at the experience. I could suffer and wonder “why me?” and worry about what I was missing or might miss, what the future would be like, and on and on.
OR I could be happy that I had a husband who worked from home to help me, a wonderful daughter to lighten the load and make me laugh, we had health insurance, an amazing medical team in my corner, and friends and family all waiting in the wings to help in any way that they could. So I chose to feel lucky. Very, very lucky.
I spent an entire year in treatment and then a big part of the next year getting back on my feet.
Then came the pandemic. Once again, we are stuck in the house and can’t see our friends and family. This time has actually been a bit harder for me because with breast cancer treatment I was so out of it for most of the time that I don’t really remember much of the really bad parts. I have just been told about them. And truth be told, during chemo, while I missed my family and friends terribly, I didn’t have the energy to talk to them let alone see them in person.
But with this pandemic and the “safer at home” order it’s different. I know what’s going on and I want to see my friends and family. I want things to be “normal” again just like everyone else does.
So I have had to remind myself that this is just another adventure for our little family to take together. Just like during my treatment, there are some times that we worry that things don’t seem fair or seem like they just can’t keep going the way they are, yet they do.
But still, we are lucky. We will make the most of this time together, cheer when we overcome difficult things, celebrate what deserves celebration, and eventually, we will look back on this and have grand stories to share about the ups and downs of this adventure, too.