Three years post breast cancer treatment I am still "cancer free." With a five-year survival rate of 70% (stage IIIB) I am beyond grateful to have another year without a reoccurrence. My last surgery was August 2021 to remove my right expander and swap with an implant and fill a giant hole in my chest where my beloved port used to live. The expander was in my body for 2 years due to
being stuck in the COVID cycle with border closures and surgery cancellations. I embraced this surgery with positivity as it was the last check box on "active cancer treatment" list. Champagne was opened and I put that warped box with all my post "active" cancer treatment side effects far away from me. I celebrated and I truly wished I could get my "pre-cancer self" back, but I don't have a time machine.
It is a myth that once you finish chemotherapy or "active" breast cancer treatment, it is over, and you can "put it behind you." They are wishful; moving forward post treatment is like learning how to drive a car with a stick shift. You speed up way to fast because you are so excited to move forward, only to find that you get jerked back and forth, and many times go backwards before you get to move forward to your destination.
There are so many tricks that I have learned over the past few years, to manage myself. Yet I still struggle with so many side effects, such as, sore feet (blame=letrozole and chemo), joint pain (blame=letrozole), estrogen issues (blame=Chemo and Zoladex), limited range of motion (5 surgery in 3 years) and thoughts that sometimes swirl in my mind about reoccurrence (blame=breast cancer).
Since my diagnosis, I have witnessed two of my treatment friends have a reoccurrence. One passed rapidly, and the other is fighting with all her might to manage stage IV with an 11 year old daughter. This deep sadness that I feel watching this happen, yet again, to another woman is just unbearable. It also selfishly feeds into cycles in my brain that produce fear based thoughts about survival.
Despite all, I am physically healthy, and I am grateful for that. I am alive to be a mother to my two children and a wife to my adorable husband.
This forward, reverse, side-ways, and sometimes even stalled experience is still growth and progress. It may not be what I thought, but each time I am intentional about my destination, I get there in a more authentic and adventurous way. I am excited for some new roads that my family and I are taking in 2021 and also exploring where my yoga teacher training takes me as I move into the online yoga teacher realm to help other cancer survivors find their forward motion.
Here is to new roads while driving a double clutch truck.