Monday, January 5, 2015

If you knew what it was like

It has been nearly two weeks and I have only been to the doctor twice. My life is starting to look normal again. This past long weekend, I spent New Years in Breckenridge, shared time in the company of friends, watched the snow fall in giant flakes, I joined a fancy new gym, ate tacos, had margaritas and cleaned my house. It seemed no matter what I did. How many errands I ran, I was just trying to find enough things to pass the time between now and next week.

You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.

Yesterday I woke up to learn of the passing of Stuart Scott. I cried. A cry that aches for this horrible disease. For how to robs. For what it requires of you. For what it demands and what it can take away. Just last week I learned that Kara Tippets, writer of the book The Hardest Peace, (my favorite book I have ever read) with stage IV breast cancer is dying. You may read what may be one of her last posts here.

Two years ago today, my dear friend Amy Patwa, of who I have spoken of before, died from her battle with breast cancer. Connected by a summer spent together at Younglife camp in Florida, I had the joy of sharing a bunk bed and serving meals in a dining hall alongside her. When it came to battling cancer, Amy did cancer well. (Not that it was in her nature to do anything less than well). She braved cancer like a badge of honor. Declaring the goodness of who God is, inspite of cancer. Inspite of hopelessness, she hoped, for something beyond a disease but to a father who loves his children dearly and weeps alongside them. She believed that until the very end. 

Amy's sister and I have connected and exchanged stories. The two us connected by her sisters legacy. Like my family, they are also BRCA 2 positive. Her sister and I have shared mastectomy tips and tricks. (She underwent a prophylactic mastectomy). Amys sister has shared her own grief in the passing of her sister and like me admires the life she lived so very much. Listening to her speak about Amy brings tears to my eyes. To have simply known who she was, was such a gift. I love listening to her speak about her and Amys relationship. Amy and her sister are just like Brittany and I. Amy being the younger sibling fighting breast cancer.  And her sister older looking down at her.

A strange connection of cancer. Of knowing what it is like to be sucummbed to a life threatening illness. To have one choice only and that is to fight. Three people, one whom the world has honored in the last twenty four hours, Stuart Scott, another who is grieved by families and the christian community, Kara Tippets and another who was my own personal hero, Amy Patwa.

Just yesterday in the locker room at the gym I was changing my clothes. I have never changed in front of anyone since my surgery. My giant scars felt like a big sign. A giant sign that says I had cancer. Although I am sure not many women looked or thought about it. I found myself covering up. Turning around the other direction...... Yet at the very same time I wanted to say something. I wanted people to know what it is like. To be robbed. To have this taken away from you. To not feel like yourself anymore. To have to make choices about your future, the children you desire when you are not married in your 20s. To no longer have feeling in your chest. To be embarrassed by your own skin. I want others to know my grief. To understand my fears. To know what it feels like to long for normalcy. What it feels like to watch everyone else moving on with their lives. To have trouble trusting in anything anymore. To have a hard time dreaming about a future that is beyond cancer.  I want someone to know, to ache with me... but they can't (you can't) and truthfully I hope you never ever have to know what this feels like.

Today I suspect will be a hard day. I long for those who have passed. For Amy. For her family. And I am just feeling a bit out of it today....

I will be in an all day planning meeting for work and to be honest I am a bit nervous. Planning for anything anymore is hard to do. I often wonder what the point is, when so many things go different ways anyway.

One week from today I will be in chemo clinic. I cry thinking about it. 

Oh heart how I long to feel different. 

May this day find you hopeful. For someone like me who finds that so impossible today.

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