Here it is, another Wednesday, and time to post a guest blog from one of my favourite bloggers. I would like to introduce you to Jennifer. Jennifer hails from Chester, Virginia. She enjoys hiking, yoga, golf, and the Boston Red Sox. She took to blogging shortly after her breast cancer diagnosis, and intends to use her experience with breast cancer as an opportunity to improve her lifestyle and get healthy. She blogs at www.junojen.blogspot.ca
When Flo, our beloved Cancer Warrior, invited me to be a guest blogger on “The Perks of Having Cancer,” I was more than happy to participate. Flo’s blog has lifted my spirits during this incredible experience we share – the experience of defeating breast cancer. Thank you, Flo for your inspiring blog and constant optimism. You’ve made the fight a lot more enjoyable!
Please Don’t Call It “The Lost Year”
On Monday, March 5, 2012, I finally reached a goal that had been set for me WAY back in July. I completed my treatment for breast cancer. It’s been a LONG 10 months. Many women face more rounds of chemo and more surgeries than I did. I got off easy with just 10 months.
Many of us face the same five year period of taking tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor to hopefully prevent a breast cancer recurrence. I will start my regimen in April after my hysterectomy. I will also see one of my doctors at three month intervals for the next two years. After that, the doctor visits should slow down. In the mean time, I will do what so many other women have done before me – get on with my life.
I have heard so many women refer to this time period between diagnosis and finishing treatment as “The Lost Year.” I don’t look at it that way. For me, these past several months have been exactly the opposite. I found much more than I lost.
I found the love and support of so many people, it has been overwhelming. I found support from people I hadn’t heard from in over 30 years. I heard from classmates who were not exactly my friends during our school days. They came to my Facebook page and told me how much they admired me. I found a whole group of new friends online, women who blog or are a part of the Crazy Sexy Cancer website community. I have even had the opportunity to meet two of them in person and now consider them my friends “in real life.”
My co-workers took support and encouragement to a whole new level. During the month of October for Breast Cancer Awareness, one of my co-workers would come into my office and present me with a pink themed gift. I received plants, jewelry, t-shirts, hats, tea towels, notecards, pins and mugs. Those that work in remote locations sent me pink Care Packages packed with items they collected at their office. This outpouring of support went on during the entire month and continues even today. Just last week I had the janitor in my office with tears in his eyes telling me what an inspiration I have been to him.
But most important, my relationship with my sister grew even stronger and for that, I am really grateful. She sent me a card after every chemo session. We talked on Facetime. She sent a huge cookie to congratulate me on completing chemo. We spent time together over Christmas. Her support in particular has meant the world to me.
So yeah, I’m done with cancer treatment. I am ready to get on with my life – this time with a much greater appreciation for my relationships and my health.
Tip: A life threatening illness like cancer will reveal the relationships in your life that are the most meaningful and important. Most of us think we know which relationships these are but cancer has a way of showing us so much more. Give thanks for the opportunity to see things more clearly and remember to pay it forward.