Friday, December 30, 2011

It's About Time

To say it's been awhile since I last posted is an understatement and a half, but my goal was to begin writing about my recent experience with breast cancer, and honestly, I don't think I was really ready.

Truth be told, given a hundred years to process that time in my life, I don't think I would still be ready, but I'm forging ahead anyway with the hopes that someday, someone reads this and it gives them a little hope to hold on to.

Where to begin was a little tricky.  Sure, I could start with the day I first discovered a lump in my breast or I could talk about the day I was diagnosed, but to really understand the devastation of the experience I needed to begin much earlier.

I had just finished my first undergraduate year at Eastern Kentucky University and was excited to begin my second summer as a camp cook at Aldersgate United Methodist Church Camp.  The previous summer had been one I would never forget, and I expected nothing less of the upcoming one.  Boy, was that calling the spring grass green.  I met my future husband that summer, and eighteen years and three children later, he's still my unforgettable hero.

At the time though, we were young, felt immortal, and rushed headlong into a romance.  As we grew closer, he told me his mother had battled cancer five years earlier, but that she was doing fine now.  Unfortunately, that changed very quickly in the fall.  I met her once.  Actually sat down and had a conversation with her.  I remember she had short, dark hair, a kind face, and a powerful love for her family.

One month later, she passed.  The cancer returned with a vengeance and took her very quickly.  It was a sad time for all.  I was there to support my then boyfriend as he went through the visitation and funeral.  My heart broke for his father, sister and him as they grieved, and though I knew there was nothing I could say or do to make things better, I attempted to be there for my boyfriend.

Looking back, two things about that time stand out to me now.  One rainy evening about a month after her death, I was driving to a creative writing class and had a fender bender.  After the police and insurance reporting was over, I skipped my class and went to my boyfriend's house to wait for him to arrive.  While there, I called my mother and gave her a tearful explanation of what had happened, after which I sat with my now father-in-law and apologized for crying.  He gave me a slight smile and said, "That's okay.  I've cried a little myself today."  Perspective in a second.

Unfortunately, the other thing that I remember about this time is that my future husband and I broke up.  We decided not to see each other any more.  He was sad, very sad, and though I'd tried to be supportive, he needed time alone.  I, of course, understood, though my heart was devastated.

Believe it or not, a month later, we were together again, and I had no lingering doubts about the relationship.  We were meant to be together.  I still feel I could search the world over and never find anyone as perfect for me than him.  He has proven time and time again that love is a very real and powerful force, and I thank God He brought us together.

So, this is where I knew I had to start.  That time was a roller-coaster of emotion, but without this backstory, meaning about my personal struggle with breast cancer years later would be lost.

Until next time,