On my recent travels to Toronto and NY I was struck by the dichotomy of my two realities – On the outside I am just another ordinary, healthy looking mom… But the truth, that is invisible to most, is way more complicated.
Breast cancer has changed me. It influences my decisions. It shapes the details of my days. It is on my mind constantly. It is a nagging voice in my head. A terror that comes alive at random moments. Every little pain is a potentially life threatening complication. A constant reminder to choose wisely and live fully.
And yet, all of this goes largely unnoticed by those on the outside looking in. The battle is invisible.
While it is nice to blend in sometimes (and I am beyond grateful that I am as healthy as I am) it also feels a bit incongruent. The outside me who appears to be totally fine and the inner me who is waging a war against death.
A part of me wants people to know the truth. I want people to see my scars. To understand how different my life is now. To know that I am fighting for my life here. I want my struggle to be acknowledged.
It is so weird going about your day-to-day life with these massive internal battles that are invisible to the world around you.
I often walk the streets and wonder who else is living this way? What internal battles are other people dealing with? Could the barista making my coffee have an abusive husband at home? Is the flight attendant dealing with an auto-immune disorder? Was the girl getting on the school bus raped or molested? Is the garbage man battling depression? Did the clerk at the grocery store just go through a miscarriage?
All of us have internal wounds and battles – invisible on the outside but felt deeply on the inside. Trying to face our fears, fight our battles, and heal our wounds is a lifelong practice.
In my own fight I recognize that the hard work I am doing is paying off. The effort I make every minute of every day to live a healthier life and heal my wounds is helping tremendously.
But I also live every day with the knowledge that the median survival time for metastatic breast cancer patients is 3 years. And I’ve already lived one of those years.
I try not to think about my death. I brush away the statistics and try to focus on living. Focus on the potential. Focus on the flip side of the coin that tells of women living for decades. Focus on the possibility of complete remission – despite the odds. Focus on the miracles in life.
Monday I go for next PET scan. I believe in my heart that the scan will show no evidence of disease. I have to stay in the space of hope.
I have also decided that I am going to stop taking the Herceptin. My last dose was at the end of December. I really want to get off the meds so I can give my body a chance to detox and rebalance itself – naturally. I haven’t told me doctor yet. I’m a little nervous about his reaction. But am going to stick to my guns on this one. Just as I did with refusing to take the Tamoxifen or Arimidex to suppress my estrogen.
Recently people have reached out with many questions about my natural regime. What I eat. What exercises I do. The supplements and vitamins I take. The psychological work I am doing. So in the coming weeks I plan to post more in depth explanations of the work that I am doing physically, psychological, spiritually, and environmentally.
It is a heck of a lot of work to live the way I do. But I do feel great. And everyone keeps telling me I look great too.
For me, there is no other option. I want to live. And I will do everything I possibly can to see that happen. I understand that nothing in life comes easily. You gotta work hard to see results. I am ok with that. And I’m willing to do the work.
One day at a time.