It was 5 years ago today, August 5, 2010, when I heard those words I will never forget “I am sorry to have to tell you this, but you have cancer”.
Karen, Leah and Andy (my sister and her children) were visiting me – with Andy working the last day of his internship. In the morning I had an interview, in the afternoon, I was taking my niece Leah to get a manicure with me. We pulled up at the manicurist’s shop and my phone rang. I looked at my sister, Karen, “I think it is the Dr.” I said. I answered it and sure enough the doctor said she had “bad news”. I started repeating everything out loud so that Karen would know what was happening. “You have cancer”, she said. At the time she thought it was stage 2 and we didn’t really know the size. Call the office tomorrow, let’s schedule an appointment and start talking about what we need to do.
Karen’s eyes were damp. Leah was so quiet. I remember thinking, well, it appears I have cancer – here we go. The manicurist waved to us as we sat in the car with an odd look on her face – what were we doing???
I looked at Karen and said, well we better go in. Karen got out of the car as did Leah. Only Leah and I were getting manicures – Karen was driving home to pick up Andy – we were meeting my friend Kathy for dinner. Karen gave me a hug – I wasn’t processing yet, she was. I just knew that I hated being late – for anything. Yes, even if I had just heard I had cancer.
Leah and I went in and got manicures. We did something very normal in a very non- normal time! Karen picked us up, with Andy in tow when we were finished. I didn’t know whether she had told Andy or not. I figured she must have – but I wasn’t sure. We picked up Kathy who bounced in the car with a book for me. “Oh good”, I exclaimed “I will need more reading material.” She gave me an odd look. “Yes, apparently I have breast cancer”, I replied. “I think I will be doing a lot of reading.”
And so the journey began…and today marks it’s anniversary, a milestone. It has been five years; that is always seen as such a turning point. Perhaps my family and I can rest just a little easier knowing we have passed this critical mark. And yet, what an amazing journey I have been on since that fateful day.
This journey has not just been cancer, but it has been the development of wonderful and meaningful friendships. It has been about doing what matters, not just simply what makes money. (Though money is rather helpful I must say!) It has included writing a book so that the things that bothered me about cancer might not bother someone else. It has been about “touches”, making a difference for others who have to hear those most difficult words. It has been developing seminars, setting up a foundation, trying to teach this “old dog” the new tricks of social media. It has been about finding organizations that matter; The Cancer Support Community, Purdue University Center for Cancer Research. It has been about faith. This journey that started with cancer five years ago today has been about living in the moment, recognizing the people in your life and how much they matter.
So, have a toast tonight and celebrate those you love, and while you are at it, celebrate what a difference five years can make!
With love to all…