I know that recovery is hard. Only in the past three weeks have I really began to feel like myself again. I talked to my wonderful aunt today and she was singing praises for my bravery. With the holidays approaching, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on how far I’ve come. I’m so, so grateful for the chance to be here and be healthy. Not everyone is so lucky.
The last time I saw my mom alive was when I came home from college for Christmas break. By that point in her life she had stopped chemo treatment and was simply waiting for the end. She was on a lot of pain meds and wasn’t cognizant of her surroundings. She had brief lucid moments, but not many. I remember that she “woke up” for Christmas. It was hard on all of us but a blessing to spend those hours with her. She passed away not long after I returned to school to resume classes in January.
I’ve seen what cancer can do to the individual suffering and the family. I may have the cancer gene, but I get a gift my mother never had—I took steps to prevent cancer before it could start. Cancer is something that people don’t talk about and that needs to change. No one should feel ashamed or self-conscious about taking steps to treat or prevent this awful disease. Many people marvel at what I’ve done and how open I am at discussing my health. I don’t see it as a choice. I am open because I can make a difference. If I can help one person stay healthy by raising awareness of prophylactic surgery or letting her know she is not alone in this process, I will be elated.
In the meantime, I’m doing my best to stay healthy and enjoy this life I’ve been given. I may not be as fit as I was last year, but I will be again. This Christmas, I have been given the gift of health, and it’s not one I will ever take for grated.