I suppose I should talk about what went on in between my diagnoses.
I won’t lie; things got really dark around the time I started chemo. Luckily, some kind of switch went off when radiation ended and I made peace with my life in a way I never thought I would. For four years, I was carefree, enjoying my new lease on life.
I had reconstructive surgery in 2013. That was a messy affair. In retrospect, I probably had the surgery too early. The radiation thinned my skin considerably and made the area difficult to heal fully. I had to see my surgeon for repairs two or three times, but eventually, it was done. I don’t regret having the surgery, not at all, but it never hurts to wait a bit. That’s one lesson I learned.
At the end of 2013, I got my first job since having a family. I’m fortunate to be with a company that is involved in several charities, including the American Cancer Society. I even participated in the Relay for Life when my company organized a team. This job made me fit–walking around and carrying boxes is great exercise. I was loving that, but I noticed that every day, it was harder and harder to recover from the day at work. The constant joint soreness is what lead me to the see the doctor and my second diagnosis.
I feel now that I am better equipped to handle this fight than I was before. In the last few years, I think I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff. And I’m hoping I’ve passed some of my wisdom onto my children. Recently, I’ve been watching friends renew their own personal battles with cancer. I know that despite all of the complications, I’m lucky.
As I make this journey, I’m determined to stay close to Katie. Being a woman in this word is hard enough without having his disease looming over the horizon, as it will since there’s a hereditary consideration. I’ve worked hard these last few years to teach her how to be herself, with no apologies. I hope if my children, all of them, learn nothing else from this experience, it’s compassion.