Breast Cancer Awareness month is coming to a close, and I've been reflecting on how much survivors appreciate life. When you are diagnosed with cancer, you are immediately faced with your own mortality. I know that nobody knows when their time will come. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Or struck by lightning during the next storm. Or catch Ebola. But a cancer survivor faces all of the normal risks of life PLUS they walk around with the knowledge that there was a disease in their body that tried to kill them, and it could come back at any time. Every time you have an ache or pain, or you find a new lump, or you feel more tired than normal - you automatically wonder: is it cancer?
I can't say that I don't still sweat the small stuff. I'm OCD, so of course I do. But I try really hard not to stress over things I can't control. I laugh off more things than I used to. I treasure each moment with my husband and my kids, even normal everyday times, or times when they are grouchy. Or I am. One of my KCA sisters turned her trip to meet us in Vegas into a month-long camping journey with her husband. They've been across the country from Tennessee and back, seeing things like the Grand Canyon and the St. Louis arch. Another of my KCA sisters who was pregnant while going through chemo (can you imagine?) just posted pictures from Hawaii where they are celebrating her baby's first birthday. Amazing, and inspiring.
The most important lesson I've learned over the last year and a half, a lesson that my fellow survivors have also learned: Every day is a gift.