A New Meaning to Three Little Words
Before I was diagnosed with cancer those “three little words” meant “I love you.” They were words that made me feel good. Then one day I heard “three little words” that didn’t make me feel so good. They were “you have cancer.” Those three little words changed my life forever.
I had just moved to Texas from New Jersey in July of 2000. Less than a year later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I never missed my annual mammogram and always had good reports so those three little words left me speechless and in shock. Not me… no, not me! It must be wrong. A biopsy confirmed what I didn’t want to hear. I had breast cancer.
My first reaction was a common one I am sure. I thought I was handed a death sentence and was going to die. I felt sick inside. I thought about all the things I hadn’t done and wondered how much time I had left. I was scared… and I cried.
I realized that I could not change what had happened to me and took things one step at a time. I didn’t want to think far ahead…just one day at a time. I went through the next few months in a daze. My cancer was small, less than a centimeter, and was buried deep. Even the doctor could not feel it. I was faced with having to make the difficult decision of having a lumpectomy or a mastectomy and my head was still spinning. I chose the lumpectomy.
Once my surgery was scheduled I decided to let everyone at work know what was going on rather than hide it. They would all find out eventually and I would rather they heard it from me. It was the best thing I could have done. What a support group I had. So many of them were cancer survivors themselves or had close relatives who survived cancer and they all shared their stories with me, sent me cards and wrote me letters of encouragement. I was told to bring a cooler in to work during the last few days before my surgery. Everyone contributed a frozen homemade dinner for me to put in my freezer for my recovery period. Do you think they knew about my husband’s cooking? To this day I can still remember how touched I was by their kindness and the memory brings tears to my eyes.
My biggest supporter was my husband. After my surgery I was sent home with drains that had to be dealt with and I was not even able to reach them. Thank God for my husband. He took such good care of me and was the best nurse anyone could ask for. He held me through my tears and comforted me when I needed it. He was always there for me, never complaining. I was so lucky to have such a wonderful man.
Later on I had to have radiation treatments. They zapped all my energy from me and I was tired all the time. I worked as much as I could during my treatments and had to switch them from the morning to the afternoon so I could go right home afterwards. I was exhausted and could barely stay awake. I almost fell asleep while driving home one day. Long after my radiation treatments ended I still had very little energy.
That was almost six years ago. Today I am considered a survivor. Those three little words made me realize that I want to live my life, not just exist. I want to experience all that I can in whatever time I have left on this earth. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
I realized that I cannot put my dreams on hold for tomorrow, because tomorrow may not come. I can plan my future but I must live for today. I always dreamed of having my own brand new home someday and like the saying goes, “There is no time like the present.” We bought our very own brand new house and had a swimming pool installed. It was truly a dream come true!
Since then I have experienced many more new things. You won’t find any grass growing under my feet!
Here are some of the things I have done since my recovery:
1) I joined the Red Hat Society.
2) My husband and I started traveling a bit more.
3) I started writing. I wrote about anything and everything, including a children’s book and some short stories, articles and poems. I even had some of my work published. I am still writing almost every day. During National Poetry Month I was asked to be a guest speaker and organize a program for a branch of the local library. Now there is something I would have never foreseen.
4) I began painting and paint glassware and wine bottles for sale and for gifts.
5) I expanded my knowledge by taking several online classes as well as a class in Stained Glass at a local community college.
6) Hollywood look out. Here I come! I was an extra in a commercial as well as a couple of movies shot locally. I even got to speak a couple of lines in an independent horror flick.
7) Last, but not least, I went to clown school and graduated in 2006. I am now Noodles the Clown. That gave me the opportunity to learn even more. I learned how to create balloon sculptures and face paint and put smiles on the faces of children and adults. Every clown needs a web site so I created my own, complete with music. Along with a couple of other clown friends, Noodles volunteers her time for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life annual event.
This is just some of what I have done during the past six years. Today I am looking forward to retirement (just a couple of years away) and really enjoying each minute of every single day!
I still hear those “three little words” every single day from my husband, but they are the ones that make me feel good and I hope to hear them for many years to come.
So get out of my way… step aside. I’ve got a lot of living to do!