In September of 2015, I was a forty-something first-time bride marrying the love of my life. In June 2016, almost nine months to the day after celebrating my wedding, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within a year my primary identity went from newlywed to cancer patient. Instead of shopping for bridal gowns and writing wedding vows, I was making medical appointments and searching out scarves to warm up my now-bald head.
Since my initial diagnosis, I’ve had two recurrences, the most recent one diagnosed in November 2019. I’m currently receiving a targeted chemotherapy drug my doctors have nicknamed “Sasquatch” that just received FDA approval in April 2020, and hoping that the science will keep staying a few steps ahead of me, as it has thus far.
The rest of life goes on, of course. A nerd by trade, I teach and direct the writing center at a small liberal arts college in southwest Virginia, where I write non-fiction and keep house in an almost-century-old brick beauty with my wonderful husband Steve and three bossy cats. I enjoy organizing and putting our house together, making art, and–prior to the pandemic–searching antique stores for vintage treasures. I remain a voracious reader and love a great folk-rock band, or–again, pre-pandemic–a night at the theatre. I can spend hours absorbing the beauty of woods and rivers, walking along a beach searching for shells, or simply sitting on the front porch with my honey, resting in the rolling green of the park across the street.
These days I also spend some of my time sitting in a chemo treatment chair, shopping for the aforementioned scarves, and lamenting the loss of my eyebrows and eyelashes (you don’t realize how much work they do to keep stuff out of your eyes until you don’t have them). Even after four years, it’s a whole new world, this tripping over my own mortality on a daily basis. It tends to make one pay close attention.
Some days it still seems like the whole “cancer patient” thing isn’t quite real; some days it feels only too much so. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am lucky to have amazing friends and family who are supporting me every step. I am hopeful, and I am both a lover and a fighter. And if the story of my journey–scary, strange, funny, joyful–can bring even one other person comfort, understanding, or hope, then it’s worth sharing.
Thanks for stopping by. ♥