For weeks now I’ve toiled with the question, where do I begin? What do I even want to say? My message? My vision? Humph, maybe I’m just not that person, too deep. No, that’s not the case.
It’s more like where do I begin when I remain knee deep in the whirlwind of being Mom, executive, wife, cancer patient?
Life changed forever for me on March 20, 2017. Maxine, you have cancer. Surreal is the only word in the English language that can even begin to describe the feeling of hearing those words. It is a physical experience, four little words. Tunnel vision, I can see the doctor’s lips moving, but I only hear the pounding of my own heart. There is no room in my lungs for my next breath.. Oddly enough, it is peaceful. No thoughts, no panic, just shock, floating through the moment, a type of out of body experience.
Thoughts begin to enter my mind; I’m only 38, this only happens to the elderly… I’m in excellent health, I run marathons (more like try to!), I don’t feel sick! Well, it turns out that one huge lesson learned here was, illness happens, even to the catastrophic level, to ANYONE. I had copious time to contemplate this conundrum. There was one week in particular during the dark days of chemotherapy. I was bald, thin, weak, sick and completely broken. I sat on the table in front of my medical oncologist and asked her “WHY!” “HOW!” I did everything to stay healthy. She gave me a different filter, perspective. “Illness strikes everyone. You never felt sick because your body never failed you. You’ve managed to coexist with stage III cancer symptom free because you started strong and healthy”. Wow. Impressive how a two minute conversation can reset a self pity party.
It dawned on me then, that was the key. I got dealt a raw deal, I had some legit torture to endure. 16 weeks of chemotherapy, double mastectomy with a complete axillary lymph node dissection, hormone therapy, 5 weeks of proton radiation treatments and the cherry on top is an additional six months of an oral chemotherapy. I couldn’t lose myself in this process. A clean diet, rich with dark leafy veggies together with exercise will get me through it.
So there it is. The beginning. Let me share this glamor less story with you. I will be real, ra
w and honest. I will talk about the taboo out loud, but I will also talk about the perspective only gained staring down the barrel of the mortality gun. How food, exercise, friends, family and a bit of luck carried me through the most impossible situation. Perhaps I can even share a recipe or ten….
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