Mindfully healing

it’s been five years since I was diagnosed with cancer.

Five years …. It’ a magic number – it means I am truly a cancer survivor.

My oncologist had me on every six-month visits these past five years. But last summer he let me know that I could stop taking my estrogen blocker when my prescription ran out in February. My next appointment at Dana Farber happens in midsummer.

My cancer is still part of my life. It left me with a feeling that life is certainly too brief. And that what is important is love, family and friendships.

When I first coped with the thought that cancer was growing in my body, I felt frightened and worried, thinking my life was heading in the wrong direction. But I spent time talking with other women who had already faced breast cancer and that’s when I began to realize there is life after this disease.

For me treatment was a double mastectomy followed by years of little white pills. My life changed. I became someone who read labels and choose organic anything over chemically altered substances. I tried to exercise, following the physical therapy prescribed as a part of aftercare.

i still pay attention to my diet. I sleep more and have found ways to avoid worry.

It feels really good to know I’ve survived. It feels as if life sent me a blessing  – a chance to continue living.

i’ve come to see that my cancer diagnosis was a gift.

Life moves quickly

I remember being a young woman – it seems as if I were young yesterday.

Since my last post, my nonagenarian mother died, after a lengthy illness that affected her body and mind. I think she died of cancer but it may have been the drugs they gave her for the pain that ended her days.

She lived in Milton MA her entire life. My sister Kathy was her prime caregiver in her last days. Of course we all did what we could but Kathy, who has been retired for more than 10 years, was the source of my mother’s strength in her last months.

But much more has happened. My daughter-in-law, a woman of incredible kindness, wisdom and generosity is living with cancer. Her cancer is being bombarded by doses of chemotherapy and other treatments coordinated by a medical team from Dana Farber. Annie, my son’s wife of five years, should be enjoying the best years of her life.

Before her diagnosis, Annie was a fulltime mother whose precocious two-year-old had never gone to bed for the night without his mother.  Two operations later my grandson, Finnegan, is still advanced beyond his years. I’ve tried to fill in for his mother. He loves me and everyone else in the world. I just don’t cut it as a 37-year-old these days.

Being a young mother was a joy. I only had two years off work during my days of intense motherhood. I didn’t appreciate them enough when I lived through it.

But I finally realize today is the only day I have.  Finnegan already knows that. I think that’s why he loves everyone.