Monday, 21 May 2012

My Lumpy Life Lessons

I need to get something off of (and out of) my chest…

I have a confession to make – I’m one of those people who resolve to focus on things that really matter when confronted by tragic situations, but after a couple of weeks, real life seems to get in the way of my best intentions and I fall back into the same old rut. I get bent out of shape by the constant telemarketing calls, the fact that my son refuses to brush his teeth for longer than 37 seconds, the fact that the dog has made it his life’s mission to continually be underfoot each time I head up or down the stairs. I get caught up in conference calls, emails, field trip forms, and dentist appointments. Admittedly, I end up forgetting to just sit and enjoy the ‘here & now’.

Well, apparently the “powers that be” figured that I needed to learn my lesson – and they delivered it with a swift two by four to the side of the head… well, in this case, the breast. Yup, looks like I have cancer… the Big ‘C’. For the last week my world has been full of words like ‘invasive’ and ‘aggressive’… rather than some of my more preferable ‘ive’ words, such as ‘decorative’ and  ‘expensive’.

The good news is that we seem to have caught it relatively early. I would love to say I was one of those proactive women who routinely performed regular self-examinations and caught it that way, but again, I fell into the percentage of the population who checks (sort of) when something reminds me to, yet was never fully sure what it was I was looking for. No excuses – I’m fully aware of all of the statistics*:

•    One in 9 women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime and one in 29 will die of it.
•    An estimated 22,700 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and 5,100 will die of it
•    On average, 62 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day.

Yet somehow it was so easy to fall into the “Its-an-awful-disease-but-it-isn’t-going-to-happen-to-me” camp. I work out, have no history of cancer in my family, eat relatively healthy (alright, who can say no to the occasional lemon poppyseed loaf??)… it just wasn’t going to happen to me. Right?

It did.

I won’t tell you exactly how the lump was detected (after all, my mom reads these blogs!) but suffice it to say, my husband deserves a big “high five” and medal of honour for doing what he thinks is his job anyway!

So it looks like we’re going on a journey – and this one won’t be to Disney, much to my son’s dismay. My understanding is that this can definitely be a time of uncertainty and unknown. And while that may be true about a number of things, I do feel that there are certain things that I’m more certain about than ever:

1.    Cancer sucks.

2.    I won’t ever give my husband a hard time for wanting to fool around again.

3.    Hugging my son is the most beautiful feeling in the entire world.

4.    I have some truly amazing friends. Seriously, you should all be jealous!

5.    It is incredibly overwhelming to navigate your way through the medical system but it’s just as important to be your own advocate. Push, question, and investigate. It’s not just a right, it’s a responsibility.

6.    I don’t have nearly enough pictures of my family – I mean, there are a lot of my son (never enough, of course!), a bunch of my son and my husband… but not a lot of “us”. Why is it that we moms never step out from behind the camera??

7.    The thought of losing my hair doesn’t thrill me. Just sayin’…

8.    There is nothing sadder for a parent than the thought of not being there for their children. That’s why for this particular issue, I am extremely content to be the ostrich with its head in the proverbial sand – even given my extreme bird phobia…

9.    You can never say or hear “I love you” enough.

10.    My husband is a true rockstar. A full-blown multi-platinum, Grammy-winning rockstar. And this time, you can actually tell him I said so!

So, why am I sharing my story with all of you? You may be thinking that its far too personal to talk about… heck, some of you might not even be able to pick me out of a crowd of two – so why does it matter? Truthfully, it doesn’t – but here’s what does… my lumpy life lessons may not be yours, but I’m hoping that by reading this, you’ll all take a moment to find your own life lessons to work with

1.    Public Service Announcement – your breasts are yours (and quite possibly, your partner’s!) – do yourself a favour and check them out on a regular basis so you know what you’re dealing with.

2.    Allow yourself to sweat the small stuff – get annoyed/frustrated/ticked off/upset/whatever – and don’t feel guilty about it. Feel it, own it… and then let it go. It just doesn’t matter enough to hang on to.

3.    Cry hard but laugh harder… and often.

4.    Take a minute – or two- to look around you and breathe it all in. Whatever your life has blessed you with, hug it, love it, savour it, cherish it and enjoy it.

5.    Every moment you have with the people you love is truly a gift – unwrap it and revel in it over and over again, each and every day.

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