I am so very grateful for my OB/GYN - the woman who said to me, during my annual two years ago, on a whim, "Let's go ahead and send you for your mammogram a year early. It'll give them a chance to set a baseline, and they'll have something to compare to when you go in at 40." That appointment started a chain of events that led to the discovery, diagnosis and treatment of a very aggressive cancer in my left breast. One which we miraculously found in the very, very earliest stages. Stage zero, even, but still there. A year later and I shudder to think what would have been found. The early detection meant a day surgery for a lumpectomy, and a couple months of daily radiation treatments, but nothing more. No mastectomy. No chemo. No illness, really, what so ever. I struggled with some fear, of course, and abject terror at the very beginning, but overall, really the very best case scenario possible for breast cancer. And now I'm 100% cancer free.
I'm also very grateful to my friends who remind me that to them, I am a survivor. I have two friends who pinned my name to their butts and completed the Komen Race for the Cure this year. I didn't even know about it until the day of the walk, and I am so grateful to these amazing women for supporting this cause. Before my own diagnosis I had wanted to join one of the Susan G Komen 3-day walks. I'd even fantasized about my sister and I finding the time for ourselves and each other and walking in the one in Arizona, together. Since my diagnosis, though, I wouldn't be comfortable joining a walk. I still struggle with my position as a "survivor" - I don't feel like I survived anything, because the early detection meant a wonderfully simple surgery and treatment. In many ways I have an odd kind of survivors guilt - why'd I get such an easy time of it? Yes, of course, I still have dark moments where I worry about recurrence. I beat myself up for taking my current good health for granted - I know I need to exercise and lose weight to promote general, overall good health for my sweet body. I agonize over what might have caused this (we did the testing, and I don't have the gene) and what this means for me as I age - what other time bombs is this body hiding? And yet, I don't feel like I have a right to identify as a survivor when what I survived physically wasn't that hard. My current goal is to move past that sit comfortably and quietly with my gratitude for that ease. (And next year, I'll walk with my friends, if they'll have me.)
I'm trying to simply be grateful for that grace of ease, and nothing else.
No guilt, no fear, no tortured analysis of why. Many, many days those feelings show up - I want to get to a place where I don't dwell on the why me and the what if. Just gratitude,and grace.
Thank you Dr. Mirto, for putting the ease in disease.