When I look at my life, I think it aesthetically looks pleasing. I’ve grown a robust network of kind and amazing friends and other loved ones. I have a job I like. My basic needs like food, shelter, and water are fulfilled. That is more than what I’ve had in the past. That is more than what others have. Like the picture of the sunrise and trees below, life has been a blur, but I’ve been doing my best to still appreciate what’s beautiful.
Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I’ve had all types of flashbacks of my life, including challenges, accomplishments, goals, milestones, and a wide range of experiences from the beautiful to the ugly. If I was able to tackle all of those things, why should breast cancer be any different?
In conversations with different people, I have received advice to distract myself. I feel ambivalent about that tip.
If you’re a close friend or coworker of mine, you know that I take preventing illness very seriously. In fact, I wear a surgical mask when people are coughing and sneezing around me on public transportation. The photo below is of me proudly wearing a surgical mask on the train two winters ago.
When it comes to surgical masks, winter isn’t the only time I don them. The following picture is of me from two summers ago. I rode the bus from Boston to New Hampshire to help my friend pack supplies for her wedding weekend in Maine. When she picked me up from the bus stop in New Hampshire, she informed me that she was sick; in response, I quickly put on a surgical mask that I had stored in my purse for emergencies like this.
Recently, I learned that I have breast cancer. I started to post photos about my tests and mourning process without explicitly stating my diagnosis on social media. A few friends reached out to me to ask if I was okay. One of them was a friend I had not talked to in years.
“Hi, nice to hear from you, ” I replied to his text. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer.” Then I explained to him where I was in the testing process and where I was in life in general.
At one point in our conversation, he wrote, “I know you’re strong, so I know you’ll put up a fight.”