Today is a big day in my little corner of the universe: it was one year ago today I had my final dose of radiation and completed my breast cancer treatment. Which means I can now celebrate one year in remission!
And what a busy year it's been: I've traveled to twelve states and one foreign country, attended eight concerts, several art exhibits, a few fundraisers, marketing hackathons, and one antique show. I went on hikes, boat rides, and snowmobiling excursions, and visited an untold number of farmers markets and restaurants. I even enrolled in a writing workshop because I have lots of stories and ideas to share.
I've been encouraged by other women who've slayed the breast cancer dragon, moved by those that are still fighting, and saddened by the death of one particular friend who put up an amazing fight not once, but twice.
It is surreal to go back and look at the photos from last year, which seem simultaeneously like just yesterday and a lifetime ago. For the most part I feel well (assorted aches/pains and Tamoxifen side effects aside), and things are back to "normal." It's not really a "new normal" - unlike some, I haven't radically changed my lifestyle, habits, or the company I keep. Sure, I try my hardest to eat well, exercise, and remain stress-free, but I did all of that before cancer. And I like most people, I still struggle with balancing all of the demands of modern life.
But I've learned that's what life is about: a string of messy challenges, frightening dares, exhilerating experiences, joyous celebrations and yes, mundane details. The key is to take it all in as it's happening, enjoy every moment, and make time for reflection.
And eat lots of amazing meals out with good friends, as I did last night at Kirkland Tap & Trotter (GO. And be sure to have the Housemade Spaghetti with chicken liver cream, pumpkin, and brown butter.)
Tonight, I'll celebrate my milestone at the Kenneth B. Schwartz Compassionate Healthcare Dinner, which is timely since it recognizes the efforts of health care practitioners at Mass General Hospital and beyond.
I'll leave you with a quote, as I am wont to do:
It's just amazing how inside our own souls we can lift out so much strength I think it would be enough strength to move mountains at that, to lift our boots up again and go clomping along happy out of nothing but the good source of power in our own bones.
Jack Kerouac, Big Sur