Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Pause before Packing

I'm writing on the Monday before I leave for a big vacation.  A time I usually love.

Excitement in the air, reminiscent of the cool crispness found in late summer as I used to gather supplies for a new school year.  Things are fresh, clean.

I want to get out my suitcase.  I want to do a final load of laundry and start packing.

I want to gather maps and guidebooks.  Print out confirmations.

I want to do all these things, but I'm hit with hesitation.  I'm stopped by a creeping dread, reminding me of the Monday before my last big vacation more than two years ago...when I went for a routine mammogram.

Get it out of the way before the trip...I thought.  I had no idea my life would change forever on that day.  In the moment the radiologist said, "biopsy," on the Monday before leaving on a big vacation.

Instead of getting my act together now, I'm feeling the need to reflect on what's changed since then.

I think about the amazing friends and family who stepped up and the new ones who have come to matter so much.  Hard to believe I may never have known them.

I think of the people I've seen waiting for my breast surgeon, oncologist and plastic surgeon and I'm awed by the unbelievable good work, the important work being accomplished there to help them...and me.

I've gained a new respect for the art of plastic surgery and the savior it can be.

I learned to believe in the power of the little white pill I take everyday.

I realized it's possible to share intimate, personal details via an impersonal method (hello internet) and create strong bonds with smart, intelligent, passionate women who understand exactly what I'm saying because they have similar stories.

I write again.  Something I hadn't done in many years, but missed.  After spending more than 20 years detailing my life in notebooks, there seemed no point after my mother died, but I'm grateful now to have found my pen again.  To feel words flow from head to hand again, clearing my fog and lightening my load.

I'm thankful for the people who take the time to read these words.

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It's Tuesday now, before my big vacation and choosing to focus on these happier aspects of change have helped.

I'm excited again, about this trip.  About time with my three favorite men, about seeing the ocean, downing sipping a fruity drink.

And then, my return to the place where I toted so much grief in the immediate days after my diagnosis.  When all I have just written about had yet to unfold.

My husband had promised me we'd be back to enjoy another day in the happiest place on earth.  I wasn't as hopeful as he.  Too many unknowns, but I'm better now.

I can't wait to walk down Main Street knowing cancer was left at the gate.  I don't believe it will ever turn away and disappear completely, but at least for the moment... This time it's not walking with me.