Another anniversary has come and gone, I can’t believe it was 5 years ago. July 2, 2012, I checked into Cooper University Hospital to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. The surgery was an easy decision for me, multiple prior biopsies which grew more suspicious over the years and a mother who died of Breast cancer. Five years later, I have NEVER second guessed my decision. I have spoken freely with anyone who is interested. For a long time everyone I knew was fully aware of my story.
Since my surgery 2 friends have been diagnosed with beast cancer, one in remission and the other still deep in the fight. A third friend is just at the beginning of “something strange in the imagining” stage, prayers that it is nothing. What frustrates me are the friends who just do not find it important to get their yearly mammograms. All three of the women I just mention were made aware of their situations via routine screenings. I am not here to preach, maybe I should, what I would do is encourage everyone to be screened regularly.
This years anniversary has me a bit more on edge. I now have a daughter who is a few short weeks from 13 years old and puberty is among us. As she fills out, a fear in me grows. Aside from my own risk factors, my daughters have a higher risk than I did having 2 grandmothers with breast cancer, women who sadly my girls never had the opportunity to meet. I wish I could do something to change those factors for my girls but there are some things Mom can not fix. What I can do is support my children as we face the future head on.
You’re going to go through tough times-that’s life. Nothing happens to you, it happens for you. See the positive in negative events. Joel Osteen
In July of 2012 I had a life changing experience. Body altering surgery, pain both physical and mental and at times feelings of pure helplessness. Over time, those feelings became ones of freedom. Receiving the news that my post BPM biopsy was positive for lobular carcinoma in situ at first set me into a pure panic. I remember the doctors call, feeling as if the room around me was closing in and the tears rolling down my cheeks. Then the realization, I made the right decision. Years of biopsies and worries of cancer were over.
From then on I have really seen things differently. I refuse to allow the negative things in life to control my day. Sure, I have moments but as a rule I am trying to live more of a “glass is half full” kind of life. For years I often found myself in the middle of others drama or tried to mediate others dilemmas. Recently, I have had to remind myself of what I realized almost 3 years ago, life is too short to be surrounded in negativity.
Not only is it too short but life moves way too fast! It seems like just yesterday that my girls were born and today I watched Madison perform on stage at her first talent show. Megan attended her first dance the other night and both are growing into such beautiful girls. Allowing myself to live in anyone else’s negativity removes my focus on what is important in life. I will no longer feel guilty for allowing myself to focus on the positive things, I will not apologize for looking for the sun instead of the rain and I will not ask permission to smile. I WILL surround myself and my family with others who feel the same!
Life is messy, and hard and sometimes downright mean. I would like to be able to tell my kids that it is filled with unicorns and roses but that would be silly, untrue and would not prepare them for the reality of the future. I would like to tell them that they can just shut the door until the hard stuff is over but that would just make them victims to the evils that would eventually consume them. I would like to tell them that they could close their eyes and wish it all away but in my opinion that would ensure them a future of failure.
No, I tell my girls the truth. The cold, hard and often ugly truth. Life is unfair, hard and dirty at times and often it will disappoint you. With that truth comes the real lesson, a lesson of perseverance that those who keep their heads up, those who work hard, those who strap in for the rough ride will succeed in the end and be the stronger for it! My girls have lived this lesson from early ages. I am sure they feel that their lives have been often unfair to this point, Madison being witness to my miscarriage, major health scares for both of their parents and more hospital visits than any child should have to endure. They have seen their father work non stop only to have his pay cut and eventually be laid off by the same company. I am fully aware that our lives are a paradise when compared to others. We all have our struggles, how you deal with them makes us who we are.
I try to teach the girls that when life gets tough to face it and never give up. I hope that my husband and I have modeled this same lesson for them. There is often an easier way but it does not make it right. Never run and never bury your head in the sand. Do not be afraid to try, to fail, but NEVER stop trying, learn and grow and always keep smiling.
As meaningful as those lesson are, it is also important, more important to celebrate the wins, the glass is half full side of things. The fact that my girls are healthy and smart, athletic and kind. The fact that after a tough search my husband has found a wonderful new job. From time to time, it is nice to live in a world of unicorns and when life is on an upswing you grab on with both hands! How do you best celebrate the positive turn in events? With a trip to Disney World of course! Very soon we will be off to see that amazing Mouse! For our family Disney is that place where you get to close your eyes and wish it away, that world where fantasy is reality and pixie dust rules the land! I can not wait….Mickey we will be there soon!