Things Happen for a Reason.
By happenstance, 5000 miles from home on vacation, I crossed paths with Sally Nisberg, who I had an immediate ,unexplainable connection to. This beautiful, charismatic woman appeared to have it all! In getting to know her, I was stunned to find that included a ferocious battle with breast cancer. Her smile was blinding and her glass half full attitude was infectious. She laughed often and hard and saw the silver lining in every cloud.
One month later, we would share an awful commonality, cancer!
I was thrust into this sisterhood of which I wanted no part. Frightened of the road ahead and what it held for me, Sally was my role model of how to overcome adversity and come out a better person.
She was there for me as though we were lifelong friends, calming my fears and giving me tips from her own firsthand experience. She loaned me a cherished artifact that she held through her own journey .It went with me to every treatment safely tucked away, my secret good luck charm.
It was amazing how, with her busy life, she remembered every chemo appointment that I had. There was a message before and after each one, checking in, cheering me on with a countdown, letting me know she was my prayer warrior. When your world is on hold, it means everything that you are not forgotten. That is how my friend made me feel.
I was cancer free half way through my treatments thanks to God, a terrific medical team and I believe determination. I remember her oh so true words- “It won’t be long before you are looking at this through the rear view mirror- you will turn this setback into a comeback.”
When Sally speaks, I listen.
Donna, our meeting was evidently meant to be and together we continue to be strengthened by a common thread that ultimately makes every survivor even stronger.
Every decision we make and step we take is lightened as we are there with and for each other. There is no fear that is so great or question too big to ask, when we feel safe and trust others to lean on.
Our connection, friendship and journey fueled my need to write Live Like Crazy and explore some of these very thoughts, when diagnosed, below:
Act … Don’t Over Analyze
Cancer cannot cripple our lives, deplete our energy, stifle our courage, shatter our hope, corrode our faith.
This life ~ This gift we’ve been granted doesn’t deserve to be robbed or paralyzed by fear. Indeed …. Cancer is a monster!
Yet, the resilience of the mighty human spirit is so much bigger. Building confidence, gaining courage and acting with determination, on the other end of our treatment, requires our very own strength and commitment to ourselves.
Yes ourselves! We breast cancer alumnae often cannot talk about the “worry” and all that lies deep within our gut ~ below the buzz of fear. The little voice that roars in the back of our head from time to time. As a survivor, I hear this voice again-and- again: and it only signals me to work even harder at remaining positive throughout my journey; my experience. We recognize, when diagnosed, that we need to be our own gatekeeper. A role that we now know will guide us as we now chose to live our life, not chase it.
Our fear of recurrence, after all, is normal and is intense in the aftermath of treatment. It thankfully fades as time passes, yet uncontrollably awakens with each oncology checkup, blood test, anniversary of our diagnosis, or when someone we know and love is diagnosed. This is our new reality.
We either choose to know everything about our type of cancer, including statistical survival rates, or accept that the statistics can become bewildering and frightening.
How much information do you need? Seek, understand, makes choices and move on. Nothing is written in stone