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Ringing the Final Bell

Today is the day.  I’m up early and I’m beyond excited!  It’s the day I’ve been waiting for 11 months.  Today I ring the bell for my last treatment.

My journey began last April after my 3D mammogram.  “We need to take another look is what they said.  There is some calcification”.  I knew then I was to have another dance with cancer.  Call it a gut reaction or intuition but I knew.  I would have the biopsy.  I would wait for the dreaded phone call.  And then I would begin another journey.

I received the phone call on May 12th of last year.  Cancer.  It was in the afternoon on that Friday that Dr. Ruark called.  I remember hearing her telling me it was cancer.  I remember saying Alright then, let’s talk about next steps.  I remember her telling me what time my appointment would be on Monday and I remember telling her to have a great weekend.   That’s all I remember.  My mind heard cancer and basically shut off.  I’m sure there was more, it just didn’t register.  I was just told for the second time in my life that I had cancer.   The second time.

It’s hard to describe what your mind goes through when you hear – Cancer.  Thoughts on your mortality come into your mind.  First thought:  Am I going to die?  I immediately pushed that thought away.  I decided then that there would never be any more thoughts on my mortality.  This was not going to kill me.  It was just going to be another part of my life journey.  Life changing – not life taking.  As I learned from the last time, attitude is everything.  I had no control over this but I could control how I reacted to it and that would give me back my power.  So after a few tears, I decided to turn on a little Earth, Wind & Fire and I danced.    I felt joy, in the midst of this horrendous diagnosis, I was feeling joy.

My first time through with the Big “C” was relatively painless.  I refer to it as drive by cancer.  Diagnosed April 27th – finished with all treatment on June 28th.  I had in my mind that this time around, I would have a double mastectomy and be done.  Short and sweet just like last time.  I wasn’t even thinking of any follow up treatment.  That wasn’t on my radar.  Much to my surprise or naivety, I end up with removal of my left breast, along with chemo and radiation.  I was in for the full gammit.

To say this has been a roller coaster ride is an understatement.  Not only have I undergone treatment but I have had multiple tests and surgeries just to get to treatment.  My body has been poked and prodded.  It has been mutilated and scarred.  It has gone through tremendous pain and trauma. Let’s not even think about how many people have seen my tatas!  My body has had hazardous chemicals put into it.  These chemicals have made me lose all my hair everywhere.  I lost my appetite and taste buds.  My finger nails are a wreck.  I have experienced debilitating nausea and fatigue.  I have neuropathy in my fingers and toes.  I have developed lymphedema.  My body has also been radiated.  I have burns and a rash all over my chest.  I am once again feeling fatigued.  Oh and then non-cancer related, I broke my ankle.  My body has been through hell – literally.

Mentally, I’ve been challenged like never before.  I have fought daily to stay in the present moment, to stay in the now.  I try not to think too far ahead.  I relish the little things in life.  I have found humor in horrendous situations.

I’ve met so many incredibly kind care givers and felt their loving energy.  The outpouring of love from my family and friends has been overwhelming.  To know that everyone I have encountered wants nothing but a positive outcome for me is humbling.  This is LOVE at its finest.  I am loved.  I am blessed.  So simple yet so profound.

This is what this journey has been about – Love. It isn’t about the cancer, the cancer is just a small part of the journey.   As in any trial in life, we are challenged, we grow from it and we take what we’ve learned and go on to a better you.  Yes, I’ve been through hell these past 11 months but I’ve also experienced abundant Love and gratitude.  I have been grateful for every test, surgery and treatment.  They all have given me the incredible gift of life.  How can I not be in gratitude?

So after 11 months, today I will ring the bell signifying the end of my treatment.  I’m sure there will be tears both happy and sad.  Happiness that this grueling part of my journey is over and some sadness that it even happened.  But most of all I will be filled with immense gratitude for all the journey has given me.  I am blessed!

Bring on that bell!  WHOOP WHOOP!


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