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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My year anniversary

It has been a year (over a year actually) since I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. The anniversary happened last Friday--April 15 (tax day). It is also the day after Matthew's birthday, so this year we spent Friday waiting for the Best Buy Geek Squad to come by because as a surprise for Matthew and in celebration of his 30th birthday (yes, he's a young'un) I got him a complete home theater system--as in a 46" plasma flat screen t.v. and a rotating wall mount that comes out 20 inches from the wall and a blu ray player that has wifi capability (yay for streaming Netflix and Pandora) and a copy of Inception. So Friday was spent waiting for the Best Buy guys. Because they give you this range (in our case it was 8-12pm) but then Elvis, our Geek tech, said he couldn't find the t.v., so by the time they got here (11:30am) and sussed out our place, and actually did the installation (which included cutting into the dry wall, going into the crawlspace underneath our house to route the cable to the new side of the living room where we were mounting the television) it was 3:30pm. And because I was battling the tail end of the adenovirus, it meant that I was pretty wiped out by the afternoon, so my plan of commemorating the day with a trip to the tattoo parlor to get a lotus tattoo put on my right ankle just didn't happen because I had a rip roaring headache and decided I should just lie down and nap (which I did in-between watching Netflix films in true couch potato style by lying down and barely moving from one spot).

So why am I sharing all of the mundane facts about my year cancer anniversary diagnosis? Because I have been thinking about how to honor and commemorate the day. And the plan, as modest as it was, was for me to get the t.v. installed in the morning and then go to the tattoo parlor in the afternoon. But the tattoo parlor was busy until 7pm and I was too tired, and truly, the best laid plans you can make for yourself can just end up falling by the wayside.

Which is OK. At least this is what I tell myself. The plans I have made for myself have often not come through--and certainly the caner diagnosis happening a year ago put on hold or indefinitely postponed many different plans that Matthew and I had for our lives together. Like our honeymoon (which we are taking this August) and our plans to start a family (which we are hoping to take the first of many steps taken over many months by attending an info session this summer about open adoption).

There's more that I've wanted to write in this space--about feeling better once I recognized that I was depressed, in large part because the recognition itself is therapeutic but also because I have an amazing therapist, Phyllis, who I can't say enough positive things about. And the warmer weather has also helped my mood--as has the increase, the slow increase, in my energy level--which got a boost by going to NYC over spring break and hanging out with my cousins Wayne and Craig. I also wanted to write about Relay for Life--which happened 2 weeks ago without me walking the survivor's opening lap because I was felled by the adenovirus, but truthfully I wasn't sure I was up for being clapped at while walking around the track (more on that later), and finally, I wanted to write about my decision to try to write, in a more formal and organized way, some of my story--about what it has been like for me to have this diagnosis.

Anyway, this isn't a very coherent post, I know. But it was a year ago today, April 20, 2010, that I wrote my first entry in this blog. And because I like symmetry and because I did want to mark the year anniversary of my diagnosis in some way, I thought it was high time that I broke my blogging silence and acknowledged that I've had a roller coaster of a year. I can't say that it's all been awful. I mean the awful stuff has been awful--I wouldn't wish chemo on my worst enemy, my hair falling out was horrific, my recovery from surgery was painful, and being faced with the potential reality that my life span may be cut short meant moments of fear, anxiety, and terror. But this past year also was the year I married Matthew and had a weekend full of family and friends and love and laughter and great food. And I turned in my tenure file in August and received the great news that the vote in my department was unanimous in February, and just this past Monday I received a phone call from my chair that the second hurdle was over (the College committee) and my file was on its way to the Provost's committee--which is essentially the 3rd and final hurdle. So there has been pleasure as well as pain, and light as well as darkness.

Which is pretty much what life is. Which means I don't think I really did learn any new or profound wisdom after being diagnosed with cancer. I think I just re-learned the things that I already knew--that life is unpredictable and you can make all the plans you want, but sometimes things happen and you just have to roll with them. Sometimes it's OK to just lie on the sofa watching Netflix films and napping. I tend to burn the candle at both ends so it's a good reminder and metaphor for me--that the world will not stop spinning on its axis if I'm not constantly in motion and if the plans I make don't actually happen.

I wish I had something more profound to share on my year anniversary, but maybe that's about as profound as I get. Or maybe it's appropriate because sometimes the profundity of a situation isn't going to just happen because I want to mark the anniversary of an event.