As I sit here watching the 911 memorials and coverage, emotion wells up inside of me for all of the lives lost and changed that day. I so vividly remember my own fear upon realizing that our country was under attack and wondering when it would end and how it would end. The fear lasted for days. I saw planes flying over my home in a different way. I didn't know if it was "over" or if more attacks were planned to take place all over the country. I thought of my children and grandchild, Jenna, and any future grandchildren and it broke my heart to think of the kind of world they would grow up in. While we had the threat of a nuclear attack always hanging over us in the 60's, I never really felt fearful over it as a child. I guess I always knew it was a possibility, but had faith that my country leaders would prevent it somehow. Yes, I was naive. I guess I've lost that innocent, childlike naivety. I wasn't totally surprised that terrorists attacked us in our own country....I figured it was just a matter of time. But, I was shocked at the manner in which they did it. I don't know how to explain that shock, other than to say that I cannot fathom a human mind even coming up with such a plan. I guess that's a good thing, as I would never want to understand how a depraved mind can think of something like this! I would never want to have that much hate inside of me that I could fathom such a thing. As I watch the coverage today, it makes me so sad to listen to the families speak of their loved ones. And it saddens me to think of how we came together in those following days only to be so divided today.
I am also saddened as I am reminded of my own father, who was dying of lung cancer when 911 happened. It was a very hard time for us on a personal basis, as we knew the time for his life was drawing near. My father passed away on October 19, 2001. It's hard for me to believe it will soon be 10 years since I lost my daddy. I miss him so much, as well as I miss my mom. Mom passed away just last February (2010) and things have changed so much since she passed away.
Our family unit was immediately broken and remains broken to this day. I never imagined that our family would end this way. We were brought up by loving parents...six of us kids. Our parents provided us with everything we needed and we grew up in a loving home. I always felt like we were a close family growing up. But, things don't always remain the way you remember them as a child. I think my parents would be so sad about the way things have turned out. I miss them both so much and so wish I could talk with them. As hard as this year has been for me, I can honestly say last year was worse. Emotional healing can be harder than physical healing. God has used the "physical" to help me with the "emotional". I will never understand everything, but have to trust that He is in control. I am thankful for my siblings that have continued to love me and be there for me.
My mom never knew I got cancer this year. She never knew I had 4 biopsies last year, as I didn't tell her because she was sick herself and had just learned that Sheila had cancer....I didn't want to give her something else to worry about. She never knew I had a major surgery last year shortly after she died. She didn't know I had chemo and a double masectomy this year. I have missed her so much while I've gone through this journey. When you're sick, you just need your mommy. She never lived to see that Sheila went into remission. She did know Sheila was diagnosed with cancer and she was there for Sheila's double masectomy...but she died shortly after Sheila's surgery. I know she was so worried about Sheila, while she was undergoing radiation for her own breast cancer. I wish she knew today that we are both ok....maybe she does.
I've reflected on my life this year. While I joke a lot and try to stay upbeat, I occasionally have times of sadness....mostly brought on when thinking of my parents and family, or when feeling physically fatigued. I just try not to "live" in that sadness for long. Cancer is so different than other illnesses. It's not just treated with an antibiotic or surgery. I had my gall bladder removed....recuperated and went on. I had pneumonia a couple of years ago and after taking antibiotics, I was fine. But, cancer treatment is such a long process and involves several different doctors and several different treatments. It isn't over in 2 weeks....4 weeks....6 weeks. Cancer becomes part of your life, even after treatment....there's always that fear of it coming back. I choose not to sit around worrying about it coming back...but it's always in the back of your mind.
I look at the past two years of my life and how things have changed. My cancer journey began when I went for my mammogram in March. I was actually scheduled to go for it in February and missed my appointment, so I rescheduled. I'm thankful I didn't put it off. I wasn't particularly worried about anything, as I had just had a mammogram the August before and everything was fine. I actually didn't expect any change in just 7 months. But, then they wanted to see me again for an ultrasound. And when I went for that ultrasound, I just "knew" when they also wanted to ultrasound my lymph nodes. I had to wait for the results to come back, but I "knew". I could tell by the way they acted when they did the ultrasound. The phone call came on April 7....unfortunately it was malignant. I went the very next day for a conference to learn what kind, how far it had spread, and what kind of treatment to expect. That began this journey of mine and five months later I am still on this journey and still have two more surgeries coming up in December, with some more treatment to come in 2012. Cancer treatment is such a long process. This year has consisted of chemo, hair loss, surgeries, doctor appointments, bloodwork, ekgs, chest x-rays, sickness and fatigue, and now reconstruction. I am ready to get back to "normal"....I'm getting there.
My year has also been filled with lots of blessings. As I look back over this year, I feel blessed by the people who have shown me love and caring and support. I am blessed by other cancer patients and survivors I have met along the way...and those who have been touched by cancer in their own family. I am blessed by my medical team and their office staff. It may sound strange, but when you go through something like this, the office staff and nurses, as well as the doctors, become so important in your life that you actually miss them when you aren't going as often. I have had a wonderful medical team....they have become part of my "support system" and I always look forward to seeing them. They have always been so compassionate. My treatment for cancer is over basically, except for the pill I take every morning to help fight a reoccurence and my follow up visits. And my prayer is that I never have to take this journey again. I'll see my surgeon every 6 months and my chemo doctor every 3 months. But, I do go to my chemo doctor once a month to get my port flushed and I like that....because I get to see the gals that have been a big part of my life this summer. Now my doctor appointments are centered around the reconstructon and Dr. Jackson and his staff have become just as important to me.
By this time next year I expect to no longer be a "cancer patient", other than the follow ups....I will continue to be a "cancer survivor". Cancer will always be a part of my life, as it has changed things about me. But it will not control my life. I will, however, continue to be involved in helping others in their journeys and be open for any opportunities to bring awareness to cancer. I will be open to any opportunites God brings my way.
I guess watching all of the 911 coverage today brought a sense of sadness over me and brought reflection to my life.
Until next time....hang onto those you love....forever.