My first diagnosis came on my 35th birthday... happy @*&ing birthday to me!! I truly believe looking back that I never really dealt with it. I told very few people and made my best friend pinky swear she would tell no one without prior consent from me. It was like if I didn't have to talk about it I could just get through it and back to normal like it never happened. I did my treatment as if I were taking inventory: chemo check, surgery check, hormone therapy check. Got it all? Good, we're done!
But as we all know, life has a way of making us take notice and I sure as hell took notice when after only nine months my cancer came back with a vengeance. The diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer has had the most profound impact on my life. I have had to learn to live differently. I have no intention of going out without a fight, but if I have learned anything it is that I must make the most of every day. The first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer I stayed off the Internet. Not because it was filled with all the things I can no longer eat, do, and drink, but because I'm computer incompetent and have never been a friend of technology. When I was told I have metastatic breast cancer, I took a peek on the Internet and very quickly turned off the computer and walked away. It was filled with things such as chronic bone pain, loss of overall sense of health, advanced directives, living wills -- oh, and the icing on the cake... palliative care. There is a saying which I really believe is true, that attitude is 90 percent of the battle. I find it difficult for even the best attitude to withstand 20 minutes of cancer research on the Internet.
Because the truth is, dying is not the end of you. It can actually be the beginning of a lot of amazing things. Things you never paid attention to before. It makes everything clear. How you want to spend your time, and more importantly, how you don't want to spend it. It honestly filters out all of the bullshit.
That is why Christina, my best friend of 22 years, and I made a plan. I could spend my days from now on worrying about dying and how if I eat only orange food and do hot yoga or take Vitamin B shots maybe I could get a few more years. But I have always hated vegetables and I feel very foolish when I do yoga. So instead I'm going to live my life to the fullest and have many adventures with my best friend. Christina and I had always created lists of things, and "adventures" we planned on doing together; yet, they always got filed away in the "someday" drawer. Until, I got my diagnosis. There is no longer a "someday" drawer. Our adventures start now. We decided that if we couldn't find anything that was a positive, hopeful, and youthful approach to cancer, then we would have to create our own journey. I know there are lots of young women out there like me who have had their worlds turned upside down. Trying to keep your spirits up and find joy in things becomes increasingly difficult when your thoughts revolve around being sick and/or dying. Our mission is to have as many crazy experiences and misadventures, because I refuse to focus on the fear.
So, my question to you is this... what is the next adventure you want to take, and why are you waiting for a diagnosis to rock your world enough to make it happen?