Nothing short of it…

Pink ink…

“The biggest & hardest single thing that you will be required to do in the entire battle is to make up your mind to really fight it. No exceptions. Nothing halfway. Nothing for the sake of ease or convenience. Everything!”

This is on a plaque called Commitment in the Cancer Survivor’s Plaza in Palm Springs. It caught my eye because it is so appropriate. This past week and ½ has been all about commitment and survival. It’s been such a whirlwind of activities that I can only hit the highlights. Should probably be 2 posts, but oh well!

As you know, it started with AC going in for a double mastectomy. What I didn’t say before was that I was on a celebratory “survival” trip with Big B. So while I enjoyed the 1st quiet time in 8 months with my husband, I felt extremely guilty & sad that I was so far from my friend. I had a great weekend! There was the aforementioned Plaza, where I spent a few minutes reflecting on my journey. It was there that I realized that AC was committed to her survival & that we would get through this together even if miles apart. She could have opted for a lumpectomy and “waited it out”. But she put on those pink big girl panties and got a double mast. That’s commitment! Turns out, she’s a rockstar! Came home 2 days after surgery! SERIOUSLY!!?? I was barely conscious after 2 days. Then she had people over to watch the Heat game, a few days after that! Rockstar! I know she is still recovering & in pain. But she is going hard!

While at the park, I once again reflected on how committed my husband was to my survival & me! How lucky was I? Talk about true love! There was an interactive sculpture that shows people going through the cancer process. At the end there is a family of 3 stepping through the finish. It reminded me of us. The 3 Bs. I knew we would continue to make it through. So I jumped right in the sculpture.

Last week, I also started physical therapy…or as I have been saying…rehab! But my 9 year old has asked me not to say rehab because “it sounds wrong!” Side eye that my 9 year old even knows what rehab is! Anyway, my journey continues. I am committed to getting back to some kind of normal and that includes being able to use my body. Who knew that it would still hurt so much to lift my arm above my head or behind my back? My therapist is very nice & patient. Truthfully, I didn’t think it would be that taxing. But it is. It’s the kind of crazy where you have to laugh b/c it hurts or is uncomfortable. I used to think that was silly when people said they laughed b/c it hurt. Really? Well once again, I have become that person! Six more weeks of therapy. Hopefully I will have stopped laughing from the pain, by then.

Ok, next highlight…or lowlight. My Cancer Mentor Tracey was scheduled for out patient surgery last Wednesday. Of course I was there to hold her hand, cheer her on, help in anyway I could. She assured us all that is was nothing, but she appreciated our love. Well let’s just stay, she is still there 5 days later, with no real date of release. No real understanding of what is wrong. Each day that she sits in the hospital, it pulls at my heart. I feel helpless and vulnerable. This strong woman who led me and my family through the last 8 months, is now down. I know that all I can do is “be present” as I have told people. But I can’t help but feel that I wish I could “make it all better”. Our family makes regular rotations to the hospital. One time I asked Lil B if she wanted to go home. She responded “Oh no. After all she did for you Mommy, I have to stay here for her”. Nine years old. Tears…

Last highlight. And a BIG highlight. Actually the best highlight of the last 9 months. I won’t repeat Red Ink’s details. But here it is from my perspective. When I was done radiation, Big B said he wanted me to go to Chicago to spend time with Red Ink, Carla & Dontrey. My tight Chicago girls. I was loath to go. I wasn’t up to plane travel yet. I didn’t want to be far from my doctors. Yes. Excuses. B was like “Don’t argue. It’s going to happen”. But I didn’t make a move to get a ticket. Finally, Carla called & said I had to get a ticket b/c 1 or 2 people wanted to see me, and they already bought their tix. Ok. I guess I was going. I proceed to tell my Radio-onc Dr. Michele, of my concerns. She informed me that ironically, there was an international cancer conference in Chi the same weekend and 3 of my 4 docs would be there. Ok, I guess I had no excuse.

Fast forward. I get to Chicago and get to lay my eyes on Red Ink’s kids! My niece and nephews. I love all 3 like they are mine. But I wanted to wrap my arms around the oldest and just hold him tight! I was soo happy to see him happy and well and laughing! Given all his health challenges the last few months, I just wanted to look at him. And look, I did!

Friday night we were scheduled to go out to dinner. I assumed it would be about 8-10 people. Imagine my surprise when it was 20 + people! From each coast & in between! They totally got me! I had no idea! I know many elves were involved in putting it together. But special huge thanks to Michele, Carla, Evans, Oveda & Wendy! WOW! Tears everywhere! Now I am a girl who likes a party, but I was floored that people would come together to celebrate my survival. At one point I felt like the air was being sucked from the room. I had to just sit and take it all in. One of the people I was most surprised and HONORED to see was Vanessa, who had lost her sister to breast cancer within 2 weeks of my diagnosis. (Her sister had always been an inspiration to me! She fought HARD!) It was the 1st time Van & I had seen each other since then. We just embraced and cried. As the speeches flowed & the congratulations came, I felt overwhelmed. It was perhaps only the 2nd time that I was able to really reflect on the fact that the “hard part” was over. I had made it! Everyone’s words were so kind and genuine. It was embarrassing. I felt…feel…so honored that they felt my journey was worth all this. All I could say was “Thank you”. Then I added, “Touch your boobs!” LOL

The next day was another fete at Wendy’s house! Dessert and Champagne! EXACTLY what the doctor ordered! Again, a true testament to time and friendship. Wendy and I have had a tumultuous friendship over 26 years. But as we have matured and as I navigated cancer, we have become close. So to sit in her house and cry together was truly an ironic moment. As Michele said, we all wore our custom tee shirts and vowed to spread the word. As I look at pictures of 20+ beautiful brown faces talking Breast Cancer Survival, it makes me smile. I am proud of myself and of my friends. Then we stopped by breast cancer Giuliana’s restaurant for a photo op! More on that in a later post.

Finally, Sunday was National Cancer Survivors Day. Such an appropriate end to such an emotional weekend! The Avon Cancer walk was also this past weekend in Chicago. You could not have scripted this better! I tweeted about Survivors all day! But you know my story always has a twist.

Going through O’Hare security, I was pat down due to my…breast implants! Yes, you read correctly. I kindly told them that I was a Survivor. I had on a Survivor shirt! Come on! The young lady asked, “Well does it hurt?” Umm…yes! “Well I will try and be gentle” Scene…

The end of that plaque in the Plaza states that when you have committed fully to survival, “you have accomplished the most difficult thing you will have to accomplish throughout your entire treatment”.

I have committed. I will continue to survive. I will do everything. Nothing short of it…

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