5 years ago today, I woke up looking just like this picture and then later that same day I woke up again, not at all looking the same.
This picture was taken on Valentines Day 2008, the day before my mastectomy, by a very kind and dear soul. It’s me, physically whole, with two breasts and cancer (the lump below my right pinky finger).
It has taken me five years to face looking thru these photos. Not sure why I haven’t looked earlier, perhaps I forgot or it was plain avoidance. For whatever reason, I finally faced them, maybe waiting, for just this moment to push me once again to commit to the Pan Mass Challenge.
I was startled though for unexpected reasons. It was a combination of flash back and seeing something for the first time. Was that a gasp shock or a sigh of relief?
What struck me was the clarity and lightness in my eyes not my long lost breast. I don’t look frightened, or anxious. My expression and posture look like one of gratitude not one of grasping. How was that possible? As I remember it, vivid lucidity and affected numbness reigned in those days of diagnosis. Yet I don’t remember how the “look” feels, that confidence and understanding.
Have I allowed cancer to take both my breast and my outlook?
Please do not take this the wrong way; I know I am one of the lucky ones. Most days I celebrate but not everyday as my reaction to the photo so subtlety reminded me. It’s a potent reminder for me to find that expression again AND to help so that others do not have to face before and after cancer.
So, in celebrating having 5 years under my bra strap I once again have committed to participating in the Pan Mass Challenge.
And so it begins…
PS hurray for my sweet friend and her “it’s not cancer” result!!!