Finally! The last day of 2013. Oh how I have looked forward to this day. To close the book on the Annus horribilis that was 2013. The foreboding feeling I had last New Year’s Eve that something awful was going to happen this year, bore fruit. Both parents were sick in hospital at the beginning of the year and then late March my own journey down the rabbit hole into the surreal world from which I am only now beginning to emerge. It began with a lump, found several months earlier while showering, but too busy having summer holidays, working and being concerned about parents to do very much about it. The nightmare began with the mammogram, ultrasound and core biopsy, all performed on the same day – I stepped out from work for an hour; 5 hours later I returned bruised and traumatised with a pall of fear over me for the Easter period. Then the diagnosis….stage 2b breast cancer, mixed ductal and lobular invasive carcinoma, hormone receptor positive…..good prognosis, but with complexities in the pathology, surgery and my history that made things not as straight forward as they could have been in terms of treatment options. That horrible, horrible week of bone scan, MRI, CT scan and the wait to know just what we were dealing with. Finally some good news – all the cancer was gone, with no evidence of spread. So then to get on with ensuring things stayed that way. Various aspects of treatment consumed the rest of the year. There were initially two rounds of surgery, then 6 cycles (4 months) of chemotherapy, a “recovery” period of about 6 weeks, a double mastectomy then a major infection requiring further surgery and heavy-duty antibiotics. Thankfully the infection appears to have been dealt with, but the antibiotics will continue for another month or two to be sure. The final stage of treatment is the taking of tamoxifen for the next 5 – 10 years, which will commence when I return from the beach in a few weeks time. It has been a really tough year. My body feels battered and old and broken and ugly and weak and tired. And yet, my life force is strong, I am happy and I have a seemingly absurd sense of contentment.
I love to celebrate and party on New Year’s Eve. I relish the excitement and noise and crowds and being with people and bringing the New Year in with gusto. But not this year. I’m not depressed or unhappy, but this year I just want to spend time with my boys and reflect and let the year come to an end without fanfare or bitterness. In our small community, we lost 3 parents to cancer this past year; there are 8 friends of my children who have lost a mum or dad. I don’t really feel like celebrating. I do however have a keen sense of hope, excitement and anticipation for the year ahead. 2014 will be a great year for my family and myself. I just know it. While the first half will still have some unfinished business to attend to with putting the cancer behind me, there will be travel and fun times and a time of change for the better. It will be a year of milestones, including my 50th birthday and fulfilment of my dream to celebrate with my family in Paris. For these things, we will crack party poppers, make noise and drink champagne as the year clocks over.
What I really feel on this last day of 2013 is gratitude; an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I plan to take with me into 2014. It will nurture and sustain me as I move forward and take on new challenges. Later today I will make time to write down all the things I am grateful for, but it will include things like modern medicine, skilful surgeons, competent medical staff, nurses, chemotherapy, tamoxifen, antibiotics, my faith, inspirational authors, spiritual guidance, flowers, my garden, nature’s beauty, good food and the incredible love of family and friends manifested through actions and deeds. It will be a very long list. I am blessed.
Happy New Year.