November 9, 2016.
For the rest of my life, I will never forget that day. The day my entire life changed.
It was on the plane last night that I realized today marks one year. It was a plane ride back from a failed business trip to San Francisco this past week. I was so excited to finally be able to travel cross country for a work trip but managed to catch something on the plane ride over. It resulted in me missing everything, passing out from high fever and ending up in the emergency room at UCSF. It was frustrating, embarrassing and broke my spirit – just when I finally felt like I had found a great balance and was feeling “normal” again. But then last night, I realized that today is my “cancerversary”, whatever that means.
Regardless, that realization put into perspective how far I’ve come in just one short year. In the last 365 days, I have undergone 2 surgeries, 3 biopsies, 4 MRIs, 6 intensive rounds of chemo, 16 infusions of Herceptin, 20 rounds of radiation, complete hair loss, countless X-Rays, 6 weeks of PT and hundreds of doctor appointments. And in the last 5 months, I did all of that with a full-time job. Miracles happen EVERY DAY. They happen because of supportive, kind and loving people. No one fights alone. And for that, I am truly grateful. A year later, I’m still standing. Scarred but not broken. Still in tact. A survivor, in complete awe of the past year.
This year was the slowest yet fastest, hardest yet most fulfilling year of my life. I have learned invaluable lessons about myself and my loved ones. I have lost friends but also gained new ones. It is a beautiful thing to see who will be there for you in some of life’s darkest times, as it is equally important to find out who will not. I thank both parties equally.
A year ago, I got the awful news. That I had cancer. A year ago, I remember breaking the news to two of my closest girlfriends, just holding hands and crying uncontrollably together in my NYC apartment. I made them sit through all of dinner before I finally gathered the courage to break the news. We sobbed. All of us. And I remember them saying “we’ll get through this” and silently thinking to myself, “How?!” How will “we” get through cancer? Now I see. Thanks to them (and all of you).
This year taught me what truly matters in life. It helped me master prioritization, compassion, and patience. It taught me to fight for the important things and to let go of things and people that no longer fit in my life. It taught me that it all can seem impossible until it’s done. While I’m not out of the woods just yet and I don’t know if that fear will ever go away, I refuse to let it cripple me. I refuse to let it steal my joy. Today I choose to celebrate the kindness of strangers, the support of friends and loved ones, and the knowledge that life is short, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Thank you for being with me.