I celebrated my cancer-versary marking the date of my diagnoses recently, and found myself marveling at what a difference one year can make.
A year since I was diagnosed - forget our trip to Greece, chemo, Big Hair Date Night and the Haircutting Party, losing my hair, three trips to the emergency room, a double mastectomy, six weeks of radiation, returning to work, raising $4k and walking "Relay for Life," several awkward "pump up" visits to my plastic surgeon to fill my expanders, a wedding in San Diego, Grace's 2nd birthday and an appointment with my friend Michael at The Loft Salon to dye my wonderful new chemo curls platinum blonde-all within a year?!
After facing the biggest challenge of my life, I'm back at work, hair on my head, struggling with balancing the day-to-day just like everyone else-almost as if nothing ever happened.
I'm a survivor, but if I thought that survival was the end game with a cancer diagnosis, I would miss the biggest lesson I took from the experience: that the real work begins after treatment is complete.
In the midst of the worst of my chemo treatments, I found myself looking back at the stresses of life "BC" (before cancer), thinking I hadn't known stress until I was diagnosed with cancer. I spent the time during treatment focusing only on getting healthy. I had great support from my husband, friends, co-workers and family, and was able to go through the process with a healthy attitude, if not a little bit of humor. I turned to writing to help me process the experience, and was again supported and encouraged, which led me to begin blogging for HOT by Hair's How. Eventually, I began keeping my own blog, View from Upside Down: Living Up to Second Chances (www.andron.com/tricia/).
Even in the midst of my singular goal to become healthy and beat cancer, I somehow knew that the real work would come after treatment. I named my blog, in a not-so-subtle way, to remind myself that this is, indeed, a second chance and not an opportunity to be squandered.
So what does one do with that realization? I went back to work, brought Gracie to daycare, finished projects and reviews, painted a bedroom and began living the "normal" life that I wished I could have while I was sick. Except now, I am so very aware of my second chance and constantly struggle with asking myself-"am I living up to it?"
|Tricia, Lee and Grace at a wedding in San Diego.||Tricia and Lee's Cancer-versary celebration at Landfall in Falmouth, Mass.|