‘Don’t worry, it’s not cancer.’
The famous last words of the doctor before I left her surgery for an ultrasound appointment in May 2009. She was not concerned in the slightest about the weird feeling I felt in my right breast, but begrudgingly sent me for this extremely simple test to ease my mind. Real big of her since it was my second concerned visit in two months …and as it turned out, it WAS cancer thank you very much!
I was 39 years old, with no history of breast cancer in my family and absolutely no other symptoms except that I felt something weird in my right breast that I’d never felt before. I’m so grateful my hubby pushed me to investigate, since it ended up being a grade 3 aggressive tumour which had traveled to the lymph nodes under my right arm. What followed was heavy duty treatment to obliterate it, including surgery, chemo, radiation and later a bilateral mastectomy and breast recon for good measure.
Fast forward 8 years and I thought I’d kicked cancer’s butt for good! But believe it or not, it came back for another go. Being diagnosed with thyroid cancer in May this year was a bad joke really. Especially considering May was the exact month of my breast cancer diagnosis 8 years earlier!
I won’t bore you with all the details, but what I will say is that I love my life and I don’t intend on giving it up without a red hot fight. And the best way I know how to do that is to live life gratefully.
It’s quite simple – each morning I awake, I thank God I did. Whenever I sweat the small stuff, I give myself a good whack across the head (not literally, but you get it) to remind myself that things could be worse. If I feel sorry for myself, I take one look at my husband, kids and my big Lebanese family and smile from ear to ear. When I tremble at my bank balance, I log out of internet banking quick smart because I now know money comes and goes. You can always make more of it if you’re healthy and motivated, so my health is my main priority and all else will fall into place.
Back in 2010, I had a blog called Life’s like a Cupcake! It was like my therapy at the time, a way of journaling all the things I love about life and keeping track of all the joy and gratitude, even amidst the crappy turn my health had taken.
I do love sharing my heart through writing, but I have also chosen to live more mindfully. So instead of blogging my precious time away, I choose to blog less and ‘unplug’ more. Rather than a ‘free for all’ on the internet, I mix it up by sharing my dreams, plans and words of wisdom within my real face-to-face relationships too. You still remember those old ways of human interaction right? Well those are what I’m trying to keep alive in this techno age of ours.
If you’ve been following my story for a while or even only just stumbled upon my humble online abode, you may have noticed I’m a bit of a dreamer. I dream of gallivanting non-stop around this amazing globe of ours – I’ve already been to a few places but have so much more on my list. I dream of being a firsthand witness to my children’s hopes, dreams and potential coming to life – if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll realise I’m my children’s biggest fan. And I dream of growing old gracefully and gratefully with the love of my life, who also happens to be my hero. I don’t know what I did to deserve it, but I got lucky with this one …he’s a keeper for sure!
Contrary to popular belief, dreaming actually keeps me motivated and gives me a focal point to work towards. My favourite saying is ‘never stop dreaming’. In fact, I once dreamt that I would do a marathon after hearing that only a small percentage of the world’s population would ever run a marathon. I wanted to be a part of that elite group and I wanted to get my hands on that medal. So would you believe in April 2012 my dream came true? After my gruelling medical history, including a serious ankle injury and only 6 months of training, not only did I complete a marathon for real, I did it in Paris no less, one of the most beautiful cities in the world …and in so doing, raised over $20,000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).
I believe that some day a cure for cancer will be uncovered…. another one of my dreams. But brilliant scientific discoveries don’t come cheap, which is the reason I will continue to use my story as a cancer survivor to help NBCF researchers reach their goal of ‘zero breast cancer deaths by 2030’. Even though I don’t want to be forever known as the ‘cancer chick’, I will be forever proud of being that chick who gives it all she’s got to kick cancer’s butt!
So where to from here? Well, I’m not exactly sure, but what I do know is that I am grateful to be alive, to be dreaming of the endless possibilities and opportunities the future surely holds for me and my treasured ones.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Never stop dreaming!