A New Story

We have things to do.

The past few months, when I’ve thought about my approaching five year cancerversary (anniversary of diagnosis), I’ve considered all kinds of ways to celebrate. But the truth is, that week, that whole month in fact, was busy. Real busy. I could see it coming well ahead of time with the events/commitments/fun all piling on top of each other on the calendar – Paul’s ship party, my mother’s birthday party, my mother’s back surgery, a night of sailing, a friend to pick up from the airport, a writing retreat.

Then there was a blog post to write. At first I thought I would tell the story of the breast cancer diagnosis and of the day I found out it was Inflammatory Breast Cancer and the sensational article I stumbled across, during my first terrifying breast cancer awareness month, that stated in simple terms it wasn’t an issue of if but when the cancer would come back and that there was a 90% chance I’d be dead in 5 years. But I don’t want to tell these stories again. They’ve all been written and told. Instead I want to tell new stories.

I want to tell the story of my mother’s birthday party. There’s my great husband who struggles with a punctuality problem who, of course, forgets he’s supposed to leave work early. There’s his meeting that runs long. There’s the changing of the child into her party dress in the parking lot of my grandmother’s retirement home. There’s our late arrival. There’s my daughter’s uncharacteristic disinterest in her grandparents, her inability to eat dinner, her intense dislike of her own chair. Then there’s my daughter’s barf, all over my great husband, all over the table and the carpet. There’s the rushing to the bathroom and changing out of her party dress and into the ugly and too-small backup outfit. There’s the rinsing of the party dress in the sink and the janitor cleaning up the carpet. There’s our return to the dining room for just long enough to say our goodbyes and go home and feed our dog who is starving and exhausted after a weekend of long-distance swimming adventures.  

The next day there’s a sick baby (and I do mean ‘baby’ here, not toddler, because when she’s sick, she will always be my baby) and soup to be made and my mother’s surgery and flowers to be gathered to be taken to the hospital, and hospital rooms to be visited and doctor’s appointments to be made and none of this. None of it is for me.

This story, and my life right now, is exactly as it should be.

7 thoughts on “A New Story

  1. Barb

    Lovely. I didn’t know that you had INFLAMMATORY breast cancer. Not that it makes a difference in most senses, but it makes my admiration of you (and my gratitude that you’re a survivor) even greater. You don’t get a scarier diagnosis, and the way you fought and handled it speaks volumes about your strength and courage and I am so thrilled that you’re one of the survivors. (I’ve known women who weren’t.) It makes me feel even luckier to know you. It brings tears to my eyes. Seriously.

  2. Jenn

    I love it when life gets in the way (well maybe not at the time but I love looking back and understanding that it is life and can’t always go as planned). One thing that I wonder is why celebrate cancer diagnosis rather than the day you learned you were cancer free? Just curious. Maybe you can plan your 5 year cancer free celebration…but then again, life might just get in the way. I’m glad that you are here and your LIFE is getting in the way.

  3. Katherine Post author

    Thanks Jenn! Most people have surgery first, right after diagnosis, so they are cancer-free very close to their diagnosis date. It seems like most doctors and statistics start counting from the diagnosis date. Maybe I’m wrong. I had my surgery after chemo so I was cancer-free 7 months later. Also, the date of diagnosis is burned in my brain. It’s an easy one to remember and celebrate. Does that make sense?

  4. Tami

    Five years. Wow. I’m so effing glad you are here to write about this. Your combination of honesty, humor and grace are so beautiful, so you. I love that you make us cry and then before we know it, we’re laughing through the tears. You’re awesome.

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