Tuesday, May 03, 2016
5 years ... and one week
So today is better than never, right?
So. 5 years (and one week ago) I heard the words "You have cancer."
I know, 5 years is supposed to be really exciting.
Like celebration exciting.
And yet, to be honest with you, I wasn't feeling any of it.
To be really honest, I actually kind of felt depressed about it.
I realize this might seem counter-intuitive. I realize there are some people who are scared they won't see the five year mark and are jealous of where I am now. I have friends who are no longer with us who never saw the five year mark.
I'm not trying to downplay the fact that I am lucky enough to still be here. Five years later.
But when I think about those who aren't here. Or those who are worried they might not be here in five years, it weighs heavy on my heart.
I didn't do anything special to still be here. The science that we have worked for me. There are people who at the same age, with the same cancer, with the same stage, with the same grade who the science didn't work for.
I am not still here because I am strong.
I am not still here because I stayed positive.
I am not still here because I did cancer "right."
I am not still here because God loves me.
I am not still here because I am special.
I am not still here because of any of this.
They are not here because they were weak.
They are not here because they were negative.
They are not here because they did cancer "wrong."
They are not here because God didn't love them.
They are not here because they weren't special.
They are not here because of any of this.
We have science to try to treat cancer.
Sometimes it works.
Sometimes it doesn't.
This makes it hard for me to celebrate.
Let me be clear: I am grateful. I am happy. I am glad.
But to celebrate? Celebrate something that I really had little control over? It's been hard for me to get to that point.
So, my husband and I decided over the weekend, we'd go out and get a drink. Say cheers.
At the last minute, I almost said screw it, let's just get in pajamas and stay home, but I didn't. And we got to the bar, I was surprised to see my family there - my mom, dad, sisters, and brother-in-laws. I yelled. I cried. I hugged. And I instantly felt my spirits lift.
We sat, we ate, we talked, we had a drink. A friend texted to see if she could meet us there too.
More laughter, more talking, more eating, a second drink.
I can't lie, it felt good.
I walked in that night feeling sad and overwhelmed and like it was hard to celebrate.
I walked out that night feeling happy and grateful and glad we did celebrate.
Yes, I am still mourning friends.
Yes, I have sadness for those who are dealing with illness (or other things).
I realized that at the same time, I can feel happy for where I am.
I can celebrate these milestones.
I don't need a big huge party. I don't need gifts. But to have loved ones around me, to say cheers, I'm here to have this drink, that was exactly what I needed. I needed this Saturday night gathering and I didn't even know it.
I can celebrate these moments.
I can embrace these anniversaries.
This doesn't mean I'm forgetting about others who couldn't be there or couldn't have that moment. Because, I don't. And don't ever intend to.
But, you guys? It's been 5 years. And a week.
That sometimes seem like 5 days and other times feel like 5 decades.
Yep. I can raise a glass to that.
Before I close, I want to remember those who I'm missing