It has been almost a month since I did the interview for WTSP Channel 10 here in Tampa/St Pete and I have gotten comments and emails from all over the world telling me how important my message is to get out. I decided to pat myself on the back here, and put it out on my blog because I agree.
I am without a doubt a better person because I had breast cancer. Facing the beast took all the strength I had in my tiny body when I was first diagnosed. It was so horrifying to me to think that my own body wanted to destroy me that as soon as my treatment was over I ran away to an island. St. George Island, Florida is where I landed.
Within 2 weeks of landing there I had to face the beast again in another woman’s body. I wasn’t ready for this. I had run to the island to get away from my own demons.
The beast would not leave me alone. It tapped me on the shoulder with every turn and over and over again I was dealing with someone else’s breast cancer not mine. That is not thriving.
I ran away again to Costa Rica this time, and I attended a healing retreat. I met a wonderful plastic surgeon at this retreat, and he convinced me I should help him teach Tica women self breast exam. Again I was thrown into the role of caregiver and not the role of a thriver.
I ran away again, this time to the city I love more than any other city, Chicago. I did everything I was supposed to do. I went to work, I attended support meetings, I walked in the walks, and eventually years had passed.
I still wasn’t thriving. Life went on, we moved on to Tampa, Florida.
Then 5 years ago I made the crazy decision to walk in the Breast Cancer 3 Day here in the Greater Tampa Bay area. I trained on the trails all summer long. I would sweat so much that sometimes I had to start my shower with my clothes on, they were stuck to me.
I had to have surgery on my foot during training. I had humongous blisters. I was exhausted many days but once the walk began my life changed. On Day 3 as I approached the final mile along the beautiful waters of St Petersburg, FL I realized that Sunday was the anniversary of the mammogram that changed my life. I left my fellow walkers and walked that last mile alone. I needed time to think, time to reflect, and finally time to rejoice.
As I approached the finish line I could see my handsome hunk of a husband waiting for me. He had his camera out, and a dozen pink roses were in his arms. He was waiting for this silly-looking woman in a pink straw cowboy hat, pink feather boa, wearing big pink heart-shaped earrings, pink everywhere to reach her goal.
That was me, all decked out in my pinkest finery, and when I hit that finish line I stood on it for a minute and then I danced – I danced up and down, back and forth, over and over again I danced and that was my thriver defining moment. That was when I defined breast cancer, that was when I realized I am an amazing thriver and I have paid it forward ever since. Thriving is a wonderful place to be – I guarantee you it is.
Thank you Libby Hendren and WTSP for allowing me to share……………