By Katie Austin
As I log into my laptop to write my next Every Woman Blog article, I close my eyes to allow my mind to wander as I try to come up with a topic to write about. It feels good to sit still, thinking about life in general. It’s not often that we find those quiet times in our busy days to just think without having a deadline or having to be somewhere. I try to come up with something and look at my calendar to see if there are any life events coming up I should write about.
Then it hits me. The day on the calendar is the only one I see. It’s like there is a glow around it and my mind begins to race, my emotions flooded with memories of that moment. When my life stood still and everything changed.
I will never forget that day. It was Friday, March 5th 2010 and the time was 11:15. My parents and I were at the house waiting for a phone call. You see, I had a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, and a biopsy the day before and the hospital’s breast health nurse navigator, Kelly Jeffcoat, was planning to call me by 11:30 with the results. I already had a feeling there was something wrong just by the reaction of those around me the day before. I tried to take my mind off things all morning but all I could think about was wanting to know.
Then the phone call came. Nothing can prepare you for that moment. I actually let it ring two times before picking up because I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. I needed to know but I knew picking up that phone could change everything. I was right, my life was going to change forever with that phone call. I was told that I had Stage 2 breast cancer.
From that phone call, I underwent eight rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, surgery (lumpectomy), 26 days of radiation, and then another six months of chemotherapy (Herceptin). Shortly thereafter I had my port removed and then was on medicine to lower my estrogen levels for almost five years. I met the most amazing people along the way and their friendships continue to this day.
Katie with Sharon Nipper (her infusion nurse)
Katie with her breast friend Brandy
It’s hard to believe that on March 5th of this year it will be eight years since I was diagnosed! As I let my fingers move across the keyboard, I think back to the day I rang the bell and how much I couldn’t wait to get back to normal. Over the years, I would try to motivate myself to get healthier and it would work, but then I would fall back into the same habits. I would allow myself the excuse that I am lucky to be alive so I shouldn’t worry about that. But that’s not true. It’s been almost eight (8) years since that fateful day and I am no closer to finding that new normal than I was then.
I spend more of my time thinking back to when I was in shape, when I felt better, when I had more energy, when I didn’t have cancer. As I type this, I realize that during my cancer batter I had to be strong. After my treatments were done, I had to be strong and to get back to life I had to put those feelings aside so that I could enjoy myself again. I realize now I never dealt with the emotional rollercoaster that comes with the diagnosis. I need to take the time to deal with those emotions. It’s ok to think about and miss my survivor sisters who are no longer here. I need to be ok with being afraid of my cancer coming back but not allow it to hold me back. I need to put God first and my health needs to be a priority. I want to be ready if/when my cancer rears its ugly head
As I sit here writing down my thoughts, I realize I wrote quite a bit and my next blog post 🙂
I can’t change my past but my future is what I make of it. I can’t expect things to work out on their own. Sometimes they do, but for the most part I know that I need to heal before I can move on. Then I will be ready to take on the changes I need to make in my life.
“Life isn’t how quick you get there, but the steps taken to get to where you want to be.” – Katie Austin
Wishing each of you a great day and I look forward to seeing you back on the Every Woman Blog,