So two years ago, yesterday, I found out that I had breast cancer.
At the time they thought it was stage I or II, and I can still hear the Nurse Practitioner telling me me that it was "the best of the worst case scenario". And I remember thinking later on that day "ya, you've never been told that you had cancer before, have you?"
I mean sure, it wasn't stage IV (famous last words), but no matter how you spin it, cancer is cancer!
And, over the span of the next four weeks (and many tests and scans later), that initial diagnosis launched itself right out the window, and boomeranged right back in with a big ol' hand grenade ... stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer.
Some days it feels like just yesterday. And other days it feels like a lifetime ago.
One thing's for sure though - I've learned a lot about myself in the these last two years.
Like A-L-O-T !
With that said, that first diagnosis was my introduction to this new and crazy world.
A world that has brought a lot of incredible people into my life. A world that can be overwhelming, scary, emotional, educational, and as strange as it may sound, quite interesting ... but most of all, life changing. And sometimes it's life changing in a good way. And other times, not so much. It really does depend on the day.
Lately I've been feeling a little detached from it all. Like I don't want cancer to be my primary point of focus everyday.
I've been stable since March 2019 (#TouchWood) and I'm only at the hospital every three weeks now for treatment (hormone blockers) vs every week - and sometimes twice a week. So I'm not having to schedule my entire life around hospital appointments anymore.
And while I'm certainly tired a lot of the time, I don't feel sick at all.
Plus, I just had my routine three month scans in June, which showed no progression (wahooo!!).
So why not keep calm and carry on, am I right?!?
I know the day will come, when I will have to give it more energy and attention, but for now, #FuckCancer.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like I just cross my arms, close my eyes, nod my head and POOF I don't think about cancer anymore. If only it were actually THAT simple.
But I'm putting more of my energy towards other things. Not all of my energy, but definitely more of it.
I'm no longer obsessively reading articles and researching new treatments (for future reference), or ways to keep my stable status stable. And I'm not spending quite as much time scrolling through all of the cancer groups that I belong to, looking for other women with similar diagnosis's, or posts that I can provide some helpful feedback on.
I think I've just needed to take a small step back from all of that ... for now.
And I kinda think that Covid may have tipped that scale for me.
Initially it was probably the fact that my brain couldn't handle the stress of both cancer AND covid. So it set the disease aside, and processed the virus. And by the time the ol' noggin got that under control, I think I had graduated to a new phase (of sorts), and cancer didn't need to take back as big of a hold again.
And for however long that lasts, I'll take it!
As for the above photo - I took that a week or so post-diagnosis.
I'm treated at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PMH), which is on University Ave in Toronto. And this beautiful site to behold is a couple of blocks south, at the corner of Queen & University.
During that first month, before starting chemo, when I had appointments almost every other day, I'd feel numb leaving the hospital. And instead of calling an Uber or jumping on the subway (which is right beside the hospital), I would walk the couple of blocks south to Queen Street and catch the streetcar home. Just to clear my head a little.
Most of University is lined with world renowned hospitals and medical research centers. In addition to PMH, there's Toronto General, Mount Sinai, Toronto Rehab and Sick Kids. And as amazing as it is that I live in a city that houses all of these incredible medical facilities, it can also be difficult to walk down that street and not wonder how many of the people passing you by are sick as well.
But about halfway down the street, you come across this angel hovering overhead looking down onto a beautiful row of water fountains. And it has this serene and peaceful vibe to it - right in the middle of a bustling city intersection. And right at the end of a street that can be a pretty sad and scary place for many people.
You don't really notice it too much when you're driving by. But when you walk past it, you can't help but to stop and take it in. And it kind of shifts your focus a little.
Annnnyways, and needless to say, the last two years have been a wild and crazy ride!
I've learned that I'm far more stubborn and independent than I ever thought that I was. I've made some new and lifelong friends, and I've cut some old friends loose. And most importantly, I've learned not to sweat the small stuff ... or even some of the big stuff. Life's too fuckin' short to spend it stressing out over shit that you can't change.
So Happy 2 Year Cancerversary to me!
I don't do a whole lot to mark these milestones. But I do respect them enough to give them an honourable mention.