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I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33: Here is what it taught me

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Every year on the anniversary of my diagnosis with breast cancer, I remember how much that day changed my life. On that day, I was forced to start thinking of my life in two parts: My life before breast cancer, and my life after breast cancer.

That day was the day that I lost faith in my body and became prematurely and acutely aware of my mortality. That day was the day I wondered if I’d ever get married, start a family, or live to be 45. That day was the day I received THAT phone call and sat alone knowing that the conversations that would follow with my family and friends would change my life, and theirs, forever.

In the years closer to my diagnosis I approached the anniversary with fear and anxiety. Each year I would strive to reach this date so that I would be reminded that I made it one more year. I would cautiously regain faith in my body knowing that trust could be taken away again any day.

As I’ve gotten further from my diagnosis, I approach this day less with fear and more with a feeling of peace and gratitude. I find myself reflecting and appreciating where my life has taken me since that day. And little by little, I realize that fear has become only a whisper in the back of my mind.

And with everything I felt like I lost on that day, today I realize there’s so much more that I’ve gained.

I lost my innocence, but I gained perspective. I lost faith in my body, but learned what it feels like to trust myself. I lost the naive notion of thinking I could control things, but found freedom in learning how to allow life to unfold at its own pace. I lost my drive to work countless hours at a job I only mildly liked, but was given the gift of passion and the joy of knowing what it feels like to live life with a purpose.

Today I realize that perhaps that worst day of my life was, in fact, the best day of my life.

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