525,600 minutes... how do you measure a year?
(For all my fellow Rent fans that song is now stuck in your head. For that I'm sorry and you're welcome.)
But seriously. That's how many minutes are in a year. How many things come and go in our lives through those minutes. One year ago today I was in surgery for 7 and ½ hours. That's 450 minutes. In those 450 minutes here is what my body lost and gained.
- 1 7mm malignant tumor (IDC, ER+ PR- HER2- for those who understand what that means)
- 2 size 34B/C breasts, they were real and they were pretty fabulous
- 2 nipples (yes they warrant their own bullet)
- 6 lymph nodes
- 2 ovaries and 2 fallopian tubes
- 10 scars
- 2 size 34C/D implants sans nipples, they are fake and they are weird but they're still sort of fabulous (and I'm pretty sure I didn't ask for the upgrade but no one seems to be complaining)
- 4 drain tubes (luckily these were temporary)
For me this all happened in the blink of an eye. For those who loved me sitting and pacing the waiting room it might have felt a bit longer (sarcasm is fun). In the hundreds of thousands of minutes since that day here are some of the things I have also lost and gained.
- A false sense of control over my own body and future
- A fear of flying (see above)
- All the hair on my body including eyelashes and eyebrows
- A dozen or so pounds
- Generalized anxiety that affected me in many small but irritating ways
- The need for birth control and with it that tiny little part of me that knew I could still have a child someday even if it wasn't in my plan right now
- A little bit of my Type A status
- My period
- The ability to put up with anything or anyone that doesn't contribute positively to the life I want to live
- The emotional weight of thinking I can change certain things that I really can't
- The knowledge of how huge my network of support and love really is (that's you guys)
- A lot of really awesome socks
- Another scar
- The gift of realizing that my idolization of my husband is truly warranted
- Three tattoos that give me strength when I look at them and have taught me to own who I am, no shame allowed (#whatwouldbuffydo)
- A love of bad hair days and shaving because HAIR is AWESOME
- A sh*t ton of vitamins
- Hot flashes
- A renewed connection with some very important people in my life
- A deepening sense of knowing who I am and where I'm going
- A developing ability to accept the unknown (I said developing)
- The fear and frustration of knowing that cancer will never truly be a non-issue again
- The happily annoying use of YOLO because DUDE! YOLO!
- Joint pain everywhere
- A hatred for ginger flavored anything
- The knowledge that what I do have control over is everything that matters and I won't take it for granted
Please don't read too much into any of these things. I'm in a good place (mostly) with all of these things, both losses and gains. I'm sharing them because I've decided living my life (mostly) transparently is what I need to do to keep moving forward. I believe that sharing my vulnerability and my strength is a part of my journey and I hope it will make a difference to someone else out there. There are some things I will still keep to myself to protect the identity of the innocent and to keep from putting too many graphic images in your head.
I can't say that I will ever call cancer a gift or be glad I had it. I don't like what I went through, what my family went through, or living with the "what if" that will always now exist. I still struggle with being completely comfortable with these new body parts and how they fit. But somehow I still find myself saying, "It's not the worst thing I've ever been through". I think back to the time leading up to my divorce, to choices I made and things I did, to losing my dad, to struggling to figure out who I am and why I am here. While I don't have all the answers now those times were tougher because they were the times I felt alone, whether I actually was or not. I can truly say at this point in my life I know I am not alone. Not here on this earth nor in the greater energy that surrounds and protects us. That is perhaps the greatest thing I have gained. Faith. Maybe not faith in the most traditional sense of religion or spirituality but the universe has shown me way too many signs during these last 525,600 minutes to not believe that we are all connected and that there is more to this life than we can see (#rigged).
This did not all happen in the blink of an eye. It's taken time for certain things to evolve and I know I will forever be a work in progress. Those 525,600 minutes sure did go fast though.