To the person I used to be;
Your life was just beginning when the diagnosis that most see as a death sentence was handed down.
Hearing, “They found large masses on your ovaries and in your small bowel. They believe they’re cancerous.” from your husband’s soft and trembling voice, as he’s clutching your hand in his, can change who you are in a heartbeat.
You went through a change in title, from “new mom” to “cancer fighter” and then again to “cancer survivor”. You look in the mirror and you don’t even recognize yourself anymore.
Your body, riddled with scars and stretch marks. Your abdomen and chest are scarred from surgeries and line placements for chemotherapy infusions. The drugs that most view as poison, you view as life saving.
As time passes, scar tissue develops between your vertebrae where multiple needles were shoved to withdraw spinal fluid samples to ensure the cancer hasn’t spread. Chemotherapy is injected right into your spinal cord.
You weren’t prepared for the pain, emotional or physical. You weren’t prepared to go through any of this. I’m sorry, there was no way to truly prepare you for what you would endure.
You look in the mirror again, still unrecognizable. So unsure of who you are, feeling lost and incomplete. Scared, anxious and feeling defeated. But you’ve won! You’ve come out of this battle on the other side, wounded and scared like a battlefield warrior, you’re a survivor with so much to live for.
You start slow because recovering from what you’ve been through has left you changed. You’ve morphed into this new person, a different version of your past self. An upgrade, 2.0, if you will.
Most won’t understand why you’re choosing to rebuild yourself in the way you are because they haven’t faced what you have. They haven’t stared death in the face, they didn’t see the life of their young family flash before their eyes, as they were bleeding out. They don’t understand, no one does. Leaving you feeling lonely, isolated and weak, abandoned by the strong person you used to be.
Wait for it though, because the comeback is even better. You get to rebuild yourself, to change how you view your life every day. You get to walk with grace knowing you defeated the beast that tried to take you from your life, from your family. You took the sword, in true warrior fashion, and stabbed it right in the heart.
Cancer taught you many things, some good and some bad. I don’t expect you to understand this transition from past self and who you were, to who I am. I don’t expect you to understand why you feel lost and forgotten.
The person I am becoming and continue morphing into has learned that every fight has an end, some good and some tragic.
The tragedy was losing you, my past self, but the victory is rediscovering who I am meant to be and what my true role in this world is. I’ve learned that every hard day leads to a good day and that the hard days become less and less.
I’ve learned that being grateful for your life and simply living your life are two totally different things.
That there will always be some resemblance of fear, anxiety or depression associated with my cancer battle but that dwelling on this only hinders my growth as a human-being, into who I have become.
I’ve learned that you can take two steps forward, only to fall five steps behind but that being consistent in who you are will help you succeed in whatever you are working towards.
I would like to tell my past self that the comeback is worth the battle because my life has changed. Like I have morphed into a new version of myself, my life has morphed into a new version creating many opportunities and a whole new world has been revealed.