December 1, 2011 – one year from the first time I saw my plastic surgeon for a consultation for a double mastectomy made necessary by breast cancer – I had my next to last appointment with him. His words to me? “It’s time to bring you back to life.”
“Back to life.” That sums it up so perfectly. I’ve had one heck of an incredible journey this year. Ups and downs, sideways and backtracks. I’ve cried, screamed, yelled, and laughed. I got angry at God then begged for forgiveness, then got mad again then contrite. I felt powerful and strong one day then weak and pitiful the next. I’ve learned to have a love/hate relationship with clothes and exercise. I’ve learned to not be afraid of anything but scared to death of everything. Every cold is cancer. Every spot on my face is cancer. Every muscle pain is cancer. Every headache is cancer.
Last Christmas I sat in a baggy shirt and sweats putting on a happy face to mask the pain because I didn’t want my girls to know how much I hurt. I wanted to see them laughing and goofing around like kids should on Christmas morning. I pushed myself to go to the afternoon movie that has become our tradition. I wasn’t letting a little thing like breast cancer keep me from going. I don’t know if it was stubbornness or something bigger. But it was a year of forced smiles, baggy shirts (just like the song by Martina McBride), and masking the pain. Remind me to tell you my changing room story sometime – both hilarious and sad all at the same time. All year long I had good times and bad times but days just marched on. I had some victories but I didn’t let them carry me through the next setback. Patience is not a virtue I possess so having patience with the reconstruction process was a huge roadblock for me. Time just kept going and dragging me with it. But breast cancer and poor, poor pitiful me was dead inside. Not by choice. Every part of my being screamed to be set free but I didn’t have the strength.
And then those words. Probably the best words I’d heard all year. I’m so blessed that he was a part of my healing team. “Back to life.” Three simple words that set free my soul. I feel light. I feel strong. I feel I can conquer anything. Will this feeling last? Probably not. But it’s the best Christmas present I could get this year. I’m celebrating my one year thriver mark with a trip to the mountains with my family. I think I’ll stand on a mountain and proclaim that I am “back to life.”
But first, I think I’ll go conquer my next taekwondo belt. To be “back to life” requires strength and purpose and power. I’ve been told I possess a little of that.
So as I come back to life, I think I will, in the words of my dear friend, to those who've not had the experience or are just beginning their journey, I will inspire, comfort, encourage, hold close and love.
I am back. Hello world.