My mother had cancer and I was with her every step of the way for six months throughout her treatment. Two weeks later, I found out I had breast cancer. My response to both diagnoses was vastly different.
I was completely devastated by my mother's cancer. I tried to put up a brave front, I handled just about everything and I encouraged her to fight... and she did. Luckily, she is doing well now, but it is a time I would never want to relive. It was probably the worst time of my life and, I would image, hers as well. I was blown away by the amount of resources available to us both -- my mother as the patient and myself as the caregiver. I joined an online support group through Cancer Care that is led by a certified social worker and connected me to people all over the world that were going through the same thing. There was even funding available to help her with copayments and other expenses. I was amazed and touched by the unconditional love and support that exists in the world.
When I found out I had cancer, of course I was upset, but I was also kind of angry. By this time, I was coming off of six very emotional months with my mother and only a few weeks later I had received my diagnosis. I was tired. I didn't have the same kind of fight in me that I usually do, but it was still there. The more time passed, the more determined I grew. I was in my 30s and I would be damned if this was going to bring me down! From there, it just progressed. I decided to start making plans. This was not an end for me. It was going to be an opportunity -- an opportunity to change my life! I have always been a bucket-list kind of girl, but now it was time to break out the big guns. Bucket List 2.0, baby!! These are serious. These are the items that people put on their lists but nobody ever really expects to do. You know the ones I mean! I promised myself as soon as the surgery was done and I was feeling even marginally better, I would get out there and get started. Since then, my life has become unrecognizable to me. I have accomplished things I never thought possible, and feel like I am living the life I was always intended to live.
I have also learned to value my family and friends on a different level. I appreciate the people in my life differently now. I was reminded that my time with them is not infinite, so I take advantage of the time I have with the people I love.
I have never been the type of person to look at life as "the glass half empty," but now I am even less so. Generation Why? -- I like to think it is because I still have many years ahead of me to enjoy. My cancer didn't happen to me at 90, but that is okay because maybe by that time, I wouldn't have had the time or the energy to start my life over. Now I can. Some people think I am ridiculous when I say I wouldn't change a thing about my life -- and that includes my cancer. It has made me a better version of myself and I would not trade that, or some of the crazy adventures I've had since then, for anything!
For more of my cancer-related Huffington Post blogs please see, "Dating and Breast Cancer" and "Just Because We Can, Does It Mean We Should?"
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