On December 31, 2011, when the nurse on the telephone told me I had breast cancer, it was a game changer. My life as I knew it from that moment forward would never ever be the same. Then, and for several days following that dreaded phone call, I had no idea where the road was headed and whether or not I would even survive. The disturbing reality of cancer is that it takes many lives on a daily basis. That last sentence is what rattles me to the bone every-single-day! With the age of social media, it's especially difficult to distance ourselves from the toll that the Big C takes in the lives of those we love. We read heartbreaking stories on Facebook, donate to fundraisers and run in 5ks in support.
At the time of my diagnosis, I immediately took a leave of absence from my teaching position. In the two years and nine months since I took that leave of absence I had multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation as well as countless doctor's visits. This is kind of a big deal for a 39 year old who had never been admitted to a hospital before. For almost three years, my top priority was to get healthy physically and emotionally and become the best version of myself for me and for those I love. I learned more about myself during that time than I had learned in my 39 years prior.
In some ways it seems like that life changing phone call was just last week and in other ways it has been a very, very long road, mostly filled with baby steps to get me where I am right now...
Today I took another (not so baby) step when I returned to teaching. I've been ignoring the looming start date for several weeks and today, it was here. I got up extra early so I could sneak in a quick run before I left for my first day in 3 years. As I was running, it suddenly hit me. Walking back into work today doesn't make all the ugly stuff go away, but it does help to put some closure to it. I am moving on and although it's hard to do, it feels good to start a new chapter. Today's step still felt a bit wobbly; I continue to be a work in progress, but I did it and with the support of my family, friends and colleagues I think I'll be just fine.
And then there was this "sign" in the high school bathroom after the orientation this morning. I certainly appreciate the gesture among the f-bombs and other profanities garnishing the toilet paper holder. At least the vandal was spreading kindness!
And finally, I can't let the day go by without wishing my beautiful BFF a very Happy Birthday! Wishing you a fantastic, fun-filled and perhaps, slightly boring, year ahead.