I still remember every small thing about that August morning in 2009.
I struggled to put on my jeans and shoes for work. I left our house 15 minutes early, so I could stop and pick up a treat for work. I kissed my kids and my hubby goodbye... one last time... before my world turned upside down.
I drove down 35W toward Minneapolis and the Mat Kearney song, "Closer to Love" started playing:
"She got the call today,
one out of the gray
and when the smoke cleared
it took her breath away..."
My cell phone rang. I glanced at the screen, but did not recognize the number coming through at 0748 on a Saturday morning. Didn't know this was the phone call that would put months and months of doctor visits and pain med prescriptions and the scrutinizing of everything from my lifting techniques to the tightness of my pants- all to rest. This phone call held the explanation of my months of back pain. I remember the doctor on the phone telling me he was on-call and the results of the MRI I had on Friday ended up on his desk and they were right in front of him. He asked me if I was driving? He asked me to pull over. He waited. He told me he had no answers for me, but my MRI showed tumors- some very large- in every single bone on my MRI. He had read my last clinic note, where the doctor suggested to me I was seeking pain medication and he would not give me any more. His summary note of that visit must have said the same thing, because this doctor said he was very, very concerned that I was in a lot of pain and needed pain medication...
Stage 4 Breast Cancer. Most people look at that diagnosis as a death sentence. Life itself is a death sentence, if you think about it. The way I saw it, I could stop and resist or I could choose to view cancer as a teacher and keep living... with cancer. Once the radiation worked to shrink the tumors- pressing into my spinal cord- the pain lessened and I felt better.
I feel so much better today than I did on that day in August, 4 years ago.
Through fear and pain and acceptance and hope, cancer taught me about life. Cancer showed me what really matters. It showed me who I am and what I am made of. Cancer also gave me many gifts...
the most precious gift was Olivia Joy.
Cancer showed me the meaning of community and friendship and family. Cancer humbled me as people reached out to me and my family and touched us with hopeful thoughts and healing prayers, meals, giftcards, money, support,... and our friend, Becky, hosted a wonderful benefit for me. I am grateful for every moment of my life, for all the joy I have been given. Cancer is a firm, blunt, brutal, hard teacher, but cancer is a wise teacher.
I may not know how or when death will come for me- none of us do- but I choose to live my life.... without an expiration date.