“Breast cancer is no more than a chapter in my life story.
It will never be my life story.”
Saltines and Ginger Ale. Who knew?
When I first heard that breast cancer was a possibility, these were the only things that tasted okay for months. Here’s for small miracles!
Breast cancer has been the chapter of many women’s life story in my family. Many of you know that Mom‘s life story includes this chapter, as did my aunt’s on Dad’s side. My maternal grandmother’s life story ended in that chapter. This chapter is now a more intimate experience in my own life. This past fall I was diagnosed with breast cancer. For personal and professional reasons, I chose to keep the journey private. For all those same reasons, it now feels right to share.
There was beauty and blessings in early detection.
There was beauty in a gorgeous AZ scene on the doors of pre-op room, very helpful to see and imagine.
There was beauty in the love and laughter in the shared prayer with our former pastor and forever friend who called before my surgery and led us in an energy-filled prayer, closing with, “Wow! I pray like a Baptist when I pray for Dawn Wink!”
There was beauty in learning that all the cancer was removed and I would not need chemotherapy or radiation.
There was beauty in the daily early morning coffee and candles during recovery.
When there were unexpected complications and I went back into surgery on December 23, there was beauty my family gathering with me at the hospital.
There was beauty in my surgeon who after complications arose took infinitely exquisite care of me through the initial emergency visit to her office on a Sunday, to the surgery the next day, then the daily, then every other day, then twice a week, then weekly care until the next surgery two months later.
Beauty in the phenomenal support and presence of my family. Every moment. Every Time. Throughout all.
The beauty of bulky sweaters! When things went awry after the first surgery, Mom, Wynn, and I went to a local consignment shop and loaded up on bulky sweaters that got me through these months. I have no idea what women do in the summer. Mumus? God bless bulky sweaters!
There was beauty that in the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, before my diagnosis was final and when I walked into a breast cancer center for yet another diagnostic test and was greeted by a wall of pink balloons draping all in the two-story foyer that The Great Pink Balloon Rampage of 2019 remains only in my mind and did not actually occur. It was very, very close.
There was beauty in those whose intention is to comfort during invasive procedures. Unless you’re a person like me who during difficult times wants to be left alone to do what I need to do. So when people intending to be helpful during these procedures do not listen to me asking to please leave me alone and let me focus, there is great beauty that the visceral growl of, “If you get in my face one. more. time, I will throat-punch you,” remained unspoken.
Gratitude for small miracles.
There was beauty in the bouquet of flowers that Mom and Dad sent me after a confluence of events came as a 1-2 punch one week.
Beauty in the prayers received. I felt them deeply. Prayers made a world of difference for me. Thank you with all of my heart. Mil gracias con todo el corazón.
Beauty in the discovery of a cupboard beneath the stairs – a delight to my Harry Potter-loving heart.
Beauty that my recent surgery went well and my healing journey is on the upswing.
I feel strong and have been working throughout.
I look forward to hitting the running trails again! The dogs look at me expectantly in the mornings, disappointed when I only refill my coffee. We will all be thrilled to get back into our daily rhythm.
I look forward to climbing back into the dissertation saddle to complete that journey.
Breast cancer is no more than a chapter in the whole of the book of my life story. This chapter definitely shapes me in new ways that continue to unfold and emerge. I don’t yet know all of the ways this will influence me. There is definitely a “Before” and “After” the diagnosis. The rest of the life story yet to be lived.