Thursday, February 13, 2014

Marking the Days

There’s something strange about approaching the anniversary of a life-threatening diagnosis. I find myself exulting that I’m still alive and well one year after I was told, “It is a cancer.” And I find myself shrinking from the memory of all the emotions that flooded my soul in those first dark days. And the fear that it may happen again.

February 4, 2013, was the follow-up ultrasound to my December mammogram and sonogram that had revealed a “cyst.” Afterwards, the radiologist came into the room and said, “Statistically, it’s benign.  But we can’t just let it go.” And he laid out the possible next steps. Thank God, we walked through them.

On February 13, I had a needle biopsy. That radiologist said, "I really think we're dealing with a hematoma," and the surgeon I met with immediately afterwards told me, “It just feels like a cyst. I wouldn’t even worry about that.” On February 20, I returned for the pathology report, which revealed that it was indeed cancer, and set me on the course of partial mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and recovery ~ a year’s worth of victories and fears.

Last week, my son Josiah and I were discussing a possible trip to the art museum after his upcoming art school interview. I said, “That would be a good way to celebrate the anniversary of my diagnosis.”

He was surprised that it was here already. “That’s exciting,” he said.

I said, “Well, I don’t know about exciting,” and tried to explain.

After a moment, my very wise son asked, “Is it almost like the anniversary of when a part of you died ~ and the end of treatment is like the anniversary of when that part came back to life?”

Yes, maybe that’s how it is.  February will always be a sacred, contemplative month for me ~ the month that marks the memory of the words that changed my life . . . and my years as a survivor.

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