The Warrior

It seems as though I’ve lost nearly a whole year. It’s truly amazing. One day you look up – I looked up – and around, and was pulled by that mysterious force back into my blog and found that I had started a post all that time ago. I started it and then stopped, presumably in tears, considering. And haven’t been back since. Because…well, what is there to say at that point. Obviously I couldn’t come up with a single thing. Here is where I started, then stopped somewhere in late December of last year:

I’m ready for the new year to begin. So ready. 2016 wasn’t all bad. In fact some rather nice things occurred this year, including the return to the Pacific Northwest of my eldest daughter and her husband from a 14 year stint in Kentucky. I had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year and a bushel of Anaheim peppers.

And right about then, when the tomatoes where ripening and the peppers were being picked, my best friend moved out of state and I received a diagnosis of breast cancer.

And that’s where I stopped. That’s where my world appeared to crash down around me. July 2016.

We women are amazing creatures. Astounding really. We faithfully attend our annual mammograms. We don’t talk about it much; maybe off-handedly amongst ourselves from time to time. But face it they aren’t much fun, rather painful in fact. Nonetheless we go, we show up, then we move on with our lives while we wait. The results are out there somewhere coming to us. Nearly always in the mail. And we don’t run to the mailbox in anticipation until it comes. We just assume it’s on the way. But it isn’t. Instead the radiologist calls to request that you schedule an appointment for a needle biopsy. Still you think, “It’ll be fine. It’ll be fine. It WILL be FINE.”

Except that it wasn’t fine at all. When you answer your phone and it’s  your PCP on the other end it’s never good. “I’m sorry to have to tell you that you have breast cancer.” That’s when our knees buckle and if we’re lucky we have someone nearby to hand the phone over to. I did, and I did. I sobbed, she listened, wrote everything down. The journey began.

I can’t lie, it was more than frightening. Terrifying might cover it. There were so many steps along the way. A team of doctors, nurses and techs that in the long run turned out to be the best of the best; (if you should ever need and oncologist, and I hope you never do, Compass Oncology is the place to go and Dr. Cosgrove is the guy to see,)  and Naturopathy to help me deal with the side effects. There were so MANY opportunities to cry. I was so disappointed in myself. I so wanted to be brave, to be the warrior, and over and over again all I could do was sit in a bucket of tears and snot. Every step along the way. One foot in front of the other. It was the only way. No way around, only through.

What I found out is that warriors cry too. Warriors cry for what is lost, for the “new normal”, for the unknown, for the desperate, edgy place in the heart that shatters over and over again, while they fight on. The most marvelous thing is that then we heal. Our bodies, our hearts. Courage has nothing to do with tears. It has everything to do with moving forward, fighting on.

So fight on ladies. The odds are not on our side. Get those mammograms taken care of. Do NOT put them off; get it done. And know that if things do take a turn toward the dark side the odds definitely ARE in our favor. And I am here to hold you up, to listen, to sit with you, to hand you the tissue, should you need someone.