This memory was in my Facebook feed today:
January 29, 2016
One year ago today I knew I had cancer. I left my appointment and got a haircut. I didn't know what else to do. One last hour of inaction. After that, the terrible conversations. I began to hate the sound of the words coming out of my mouth. Most of my friends got a text from me for that reason.
That day was a confirmation of my gut feeling. If you've ever googled Inflammatory Breast Cancer and looked at the symptoms, you know this one doesn't fly under the radar. Once she's raging, she makes her presence known. Still. Denial can buy you a month, or in my case, several.
But then, I found myself staring into the most compassionate eyes I've ever seen. I was told, "I've made an appointment with a breast surgeon for you. Don't freak out, she's at the Cancer Center. You need to be prepared for the worst, just in case."
The room was filled with sounds. My denial shattering. My dreams and plans deflating. My heart breaking. A voice screamed 'I'm too young for this!' But I was the only one who heard those things.
Tonight I sit in silence. A voiceless toast--bourbon. And thoughts. So many thoughts. Treatment is over. I've watched other young moms like myself not even finish treatment. I realize I'm blessed. But crap, it's hard to stop living like the other shoe is going to drop. Recurrence. Or worse, metastasis.
But tonight--Bourbon. Hope. And the wholesome exhaustion after a day of chasing three young children.
Oh, and cookies.
I had forgotten.
How do you mark an anniversary like this? It doesn't exactly merit flowers and bakery cupcakes.
When I was living at mom and dad's for chemo, often too tired to help tuck in my babies...when I was in Houston for surgery and radiation, homesick and missing my family...I held on to one thought. That if I made it through, I could go back to my life. My home and my children. The teal carpet and sunny windows. Their messes and noise and sweet kisses.
Today I celebrated with ordinary.
Squabbles over toys. A little one not making it to the potty on time.
Pancakes and bacon for lunch. Snuggling on the couch to watch Zootopia. Folding laundry.
Always with the laundry....
Slow dancing with Eli in my arms as he recovered from a tantrum. Twelve thousand rounds of Mommy, watch this.
Chopping vegetables. Sipping wine. Boiling noodles.
Negotiating just one more bite. A quick bath. Lotion and pajamas and strawberry toothpaste.
Two chapters of Alice in Wonderland. Prayers and kisses, blankets just so and singing La La Lu....
When Eli was an infant, I would wear him in the front pack...sometimes screaming, sometimes sleeping...while I coerced my two toddlers through their dinner and bedtime routine.
Jason was working nights, and evenings were his precious (few) hours dedicated to sleep.
Every night, once the girls were asleep, I would fill the kitchen sink with warm water and give Eli his bath. It was one of the rare times his little body seemed to relax. Afterwards, with nothing but a lamp glowing in the living room and Ray Lamontagne on Pandora, I'd settle in and breastfeed him. Not knowing I had cancer in one breast, this was always painful for me (emotionally and physically) and exhausting for him (emotionally and physically).
Tonight I was listening to the same station.
I had tucked in all three kids, and my thoughts and tea were both seeping, when I realized Eli was up again. Starving, of course. So I gave him a banana and sat audience to his retelling of the movie Sing.
And as he started to make the banana peel dance...first on the table and then on the carpet...I cringed first, and then I remembered. This. This ordinary life.
You are living the life you fought for.
Happy Cancerversary to me.