Breast Cancer Journey

How I Decided to Go from Surviving to Thriving!!

Everyone remembers the day we found out that we would be on lockdown due to Covid-19. It was a terrifying time, but some thought it would only last a few weeks. No one expected a worldwide pandemic at the beginning of a new decade. I will bet that, like myself, most of us were betting that this new decade would bring us the best years of our lives. 2020 is associated with vision, and most of us thought we could see a better future ahead – silly fortunetellers. Unfortunately, we were wrong because 2020 came in like a wrecking ball, smashing our dreams, smacking us around, and kicking our butts monthly.
Like most of us, I tried to keep my head above water, but I had another storm brewing over my life. That storm was breast cancer with an overcast of grief. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, and while I won my battle, I ended up back on the battlefield. I found out that I had to do additional post-treatment to ensure that I would remain ok. This update was a hard pill to swallow, literally.
My body had been through so much, and I was exhausted because I had to work full-time through chemo. So as instructed, I began post-treatment, which brought on more side effects that were very intense. I had to be monitored by my doctor, which was super stressful because I also had to return to work for financial reasons.
Due to the pandemic and treatment, I had not seen my mother for two years, so I was determined to go home. I decided to go home by any means necessary. I went home after receiving clearance for two weeks in October. It was great to be home to see my mother finally. Fortunately, I decided to take another week off work to adjust to my new treatment and see my mother. Looking back on it, I wish I had taken the rest of the year off so I could have spent more time with my mother. I realize that jobs are replaceable, and so are employees, but nothing can replace my mother. I’m so thankful for the time I spent with her and that she saw me cancer-free. I had to return to NY for another treatment, but as soon as it was over, I went back to spend more time with my mom and my family. I had planned to celebrate my birthday by making a family trip with my family, but on the morning of my birthday, I learned that my mom had passed away. I was devastated.
After my mom’s passing, my life changed completely. I had a new perspective that even my diagnosis didn’t bring to me. It made me realize that life is short, but it is also the longest thing you will ever do, and because of this, all the days count. After you are gone, life continues to go on for everyone else. I started to see that I was the main character in my story and had to put myself first. I came into the new year feeling like I needed a reset. I wanted to sit down with God, do inventory, and re-evaluate how I saw myself living this life. I spent the last two years of my life surviving in every way. It took a lot for me to make it through each day during chemo, and any time I took off from work was to heal because I only had enough days for treatment. I realized I hadn’t taken time to relax and enjoy myself, which was not how I wanted to continue.
I was exhausted from life, tired of people feeling sorry for me, and even more tired of feeling sorry for myself. My mom passing on my birthday was a defining moment for me. I was close to wanting to end it all, and it felt like life just kept hitting me so hard that I didn’t even want to keep going. I knew my mom was the strongest person I had ever met, so who would I look to find my strength? She was a brain aneurysm and stroke survivor. She spent 13 years disabled after they only gave her one year to live. The day my mother died was tough because I had to decide how to spend my birthday, which now became the day my mother died. Would I no longer celebrate my birthday? Would it be a day filled with sadness? I had to re-write my narrative. They say it’s not what happens to you; it’s your attitude toward the situation, and my attitude was celebrating my life and her life.
A couple of months later, I decided I should be intentional about thriving. I was determined to change my life. I quit my job for a better opportunity that would allow me to advocate for others and create a legacy for myself. I decided to travel and see the world again. After I finished my chemo pills, I decided to take myself to Disney World. I felt like this was a milestone worth celebrating, and I wasn’t just going to finish chemo and log onto my computer the next day and work as I had before. I also took a leadership retreat trip with other breast cancer survivors through an organization called Fight Through Flights. This trip was life-changing because I could talk to and bond with women who had been out of treatment for years. I needed that push to get back into the game of life.
Now I am trying to figure out the next steps in my life. I am no longer willing to keep things in my life that no longer serve me. I am purging negative situations, people, and mindsets from my life. I fought too damn hard to be here, and for that, I owe it to myself to go after the best. I also believe that I owe myself kindness and grace. It’s also ok to not be perfect and not to be hard on myself. Lastly, understanding that it’s ok to rest and always include self-care in the mix. I am entering my soft-girl season. So what is a soft-girl season? Well, it is a season when women can normalize being vulnerable. Women no longer have to be in survival mode. Women can now prioritize peace and self-love. I look forward to the softness of life and the many blessings coming my way. I trust that God will give me beauty for all my ashes.