Serving My Life Sentence…
Before my 20th birthday, a genetics counsellor issued me a life sentence I didn’t ask for and had no idea how to handle. Finding out I had the BRCA1 gene mutation (passed down through Dad from his mother) meant I had to live with the knowledge of a ticking cancer time bomb loaded, deep in my cells, waiting to go off.
This news would overwhelm anyone, but at the time I was a small town girl struggling with the insecurities of adjusting to college and city life. And because of some weight gain from a backpacking trip after high school, fitting into my clothes was proving to be a challenge. While my new college friends attended parties, I quietly came up with complex scenarios for how quickly I needed to lose the weight so I could attract Mr. Right in time to fit in marriage and motherhood before my cancer risk caught up with me. To read more about how a genetic mutation (BRCA1) became a life sentence and contributed to one disastrous break-up after another through my 20s, turn to page 17 of the LIVES Affected by Cancer – 2012 Edition.
LIVES is a magazine pulled together by the hardworking team at Facing Cancer Together & The Look Good Feel Better Program and includes plenty of stories sure to inspire you, whether you are facing cancer or not.
In a post I wrote recently on the Facing Cancer Blog - So, Now What? - I shared an excerpt of how terrified I felt when treatment ended and I had no idea where the future would lead me:
Although my cancer journey will finish, the real work of picking up the pieces of my life has just begun. The thought of shaping those pieces into a brand new identity scares the crap out of me.
So here’s to all of you out-of-breath swimmers who have the courage to join me as we dive into fear and sadness. You brave dog paddlers who teach me to make no guarantees about how or when we’ll make it to the other side. And, here’s to the friends and family who tirelessly cheer us on from the bleachers. Even if they don’t recognize us in our wet, bedraggled, chest heaving state as we climb out of the pool, we appreciate that they will do their best to love us anyways. Click HERE to read the full post on Facing Cancer about facing the challenges that come AFTER treatment.
And, staying within the realm of survivorship, I am excited to share a post written by Rachel Pappas on her wonderful site 1UpOnCancer: Survivor’s Dream Turns Big and Hairy. Thank you Rachel for helping me share this story with your readers.
What about you? Whether it’s cancer or not, are you struggling with a Life Sentence of your own? If you feel scared, sad, or alienated, I promise, you are not alone. Many of us have been there and will continue to wade through the murky pool of questions and fears that, unfortunately, may never entirely disappear.
To manage my own fears of a breast cancer reoccurrence or an ovarian cancer diagnosis, I’ve become a subscriber to the “Life is short, I’m going to live the hell out of it for as long as I can” philosophy.
Huge thanks to a friend who shared the image below on Facebook last week. I think it about sums it up for me…