Sometimes we need to look back at where we’ve been to move forward in life and in our hearts. Here’s an excerpt from Carolyn Redman’s News from Lake Boobbegone: A Breast Cancer Memoir from the Heart which became a #1 New Release in April 2017.
November 27, 2014,
So, these are the top ten things I’ve had to let go of this year: (1) my left breast, (2) 15 lymph nodes, (3) all of my hair, (4) my immune system, (5) my idea of beauty, (6) the illusion of control, (7) cocktails, (8) a plethora of tears, (9) a few extra pounds, and (10) wondering why me.
My last radiation treatment, or as I liked to euphemistically call it, “light therapy,” took place on November 10th. But even weeks after the treatment ended, radiation had left me looking and feeling like I’d been microwaved on high for far too long. Next to the mother of all sunburns, the emotional fatigue of daily treatments was probably the worst of it. I had been living “cancerously” for nearly a year now, and it had taken all of my resolve. Unlike chemo, I had to face radiation therapy on my own. No one could go with me, hold my hand, or sit by my side and distract me from these treatments. I had to dig deep and find even more strength I wasn’t sure I could muster.
The “mean wells,” my term for people who say dumb stuff unintentionally, keep reminding me how great things will be once I get back to normal. I don’t see how that is even remotely possible. I am missing a body part, have been infused with drugs potent enough to damage my heart and make my hair fall out, have been microwaved on high for 30 consecutive days, and as an added bonus have been chemically catapulted into menopause. And those are just the physical ramifications. Mix in equal parts anxiety, fear, and sadness, and the cancer train I’ve been on misses all the normal stops. What a disappointment and missed opportunity it would be if, after all of this, I turned out to be the exact same person I was before I was diagnosed.
I can’t quite go as far as to say that I am grateful I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but I can say that I am grateful for all of the realizations that have resulted because of it. I was given the opportunity to tap into a reservoir of courage I didn’t even know existed. I witnessed people at their best as they surrounded me with their clinical, surgical, and scientific expertise, genuine concern, humor, compassion, energy, and love. The word friendship took on a whole new meaning with each chemo sitter who took time out of her busy life to sit with me for hours on end. And I found out that my marriage was indeed for better or worse.
This Thanksgiving would be like no other because I finally understood the importance and power of gratitude. I had gained far more than I had lost this year and for that I was extremely grateful.
News from Lake Boobbegone by Carolyn Redman, copyright (C) 2017 by Carolyn Redman.