Cancer may have threatened my life in unimaginable ways but strangely, I think it may have saved it, too.
(Let the backlash begin...)
In the few years leading up to my cancer diagnosis in March of 2012, I dealt with a variety of significant personal and work-related issues. My stress level was at an all-time high. The migraines that plagued me for nearly 30 years had gotten so frequent that I had to switch medications twice in a matter of weeks. They wouldn't simmer down.
The depression that I had battled off and on for the majority of my adult life had also decided once again to rear its ugly head. I bit the bullet and made an appointment with my family doctor to rule out any other possible issues and to begrudgingly ask for a prescription for Prozac - my happy pill of choice.
The bottom line was that I wasn't happy at all. I felt useless and hopeless and drained of emotion. I could be silly and laugh and joke, but when I was alone, my brain wouldn't calm down. It was a downward spiral that I had been down before and was afraid of heading there again.
After describing all of my woes and symptoms to my doctor, she ordered blood work to see if I was actually pre-menopausal, which would explain quite a bit of my issues. This was in December of 2011.
Two months later, I found the lump in my breast that would ultimately lead to my diagnosis of stage IIB, triple negative breast cancer. I would have to endure 13 rounds of chemo, 30 radiation treatments and removal of both breasts.
Now that I am nearly 8 months post treatment, I've had plenty of time to reflect and do what I do best - over-analyze.
I have had one pretty minor migraine since I started chemo about 16 months ago. ONE! I haven't gone a stretch like that in decades. I rarely get headaches now, period. Those that I do get are usually knocked out with a couple of Advil. No prescription meds!
Given all the shit I've gone through mentally and physically in the last year and a half, my stress level is a fraction of what it's been the last 5-10 years. I am still taking my happy pills like a good little girl and clearly, they're working.
I appreciate life in a different way now. I hold those that have been there for me very close to my heart and try to tell them often how much i appreciate them. All others? Well, I don't waste my precious time worrying about them. They didn't worry about me!
I'm eating better. I'm sleeping better (finally!). I'm making better and more thoughtful decisions. I'm trying to be a better person overall.
I will never cop to thanking cancer for any of these good things. I wouldn't rather have those things back in my life at all but cancer was placed in my way and for whatever reason, I was able to recover. Regardless of what my future holds, right now, I'm stronger, healthier and yes, happier, than I've been in a very, very long time.
I'll say it again...
I am happy.