One year ago today, I went in to see my dermatologist, and with Ferris wailing in the background, she cut off the small, suspicious looking mole on the outside of my right thigh, and sent it off to the lab for the diagnosis that would upend my entire life.
From surgery and resulting issues with breastfeeding Ferris, to the financial upheaval of all of it, to the mental impact of getting a cancer diagnosis at age 34, it was a bumpy ride. But, I’m happy to tell you that today, one year after it all began, that I am finally starting to figure it out.
It took me a long time to realize that the bad things that happen to you in your life are not the hardest things you have to do. After all, you are still here, you have survived the bad things. The hardest part is taking the new person you are after they are over, and figuring out how the rest of your life will be for that new person. People (myself included) are always waiting to “get over” the bad things that happen. But I finally figured out that you never get over anything, you simply move on. You are changed, maybe even damaged, but you have the rest of your life to live. It’s really, really hard, but you have to forge a new road for yourself, the old one is gone.
We recently paid off the significant medical debt we had accumulated, both for my melanoma (surgery, office visits, tests, lab work and biopsies, oh my!) and also for my time in the hospital having Ferris, which had happened just 5 months prior. Looking back at the year, I don’t have a clue how we managed, but we did. And it is like taking a huge breath of fresh air every time I remember we don’t have medical bills saddling us down anymore.
I also followed through with one of my plans for the new year and found myself a therapist. I’ve always been a pretty anxious person and a worrier, and so, as I mentioned recently, the whole experience shook me to my core. I’m having trouble dealing with all of that in itself, but also in conjunction with the whirlwind of other major events that happened around the same time (registering Bowie for Kindergarten, having my 19 year old cat put down, appearing on Good Morning America) that I think kind of distracted me from mentally handling the cancer, and I thought it might be a good idea to talk to someone about that. I’ve been to see her three times now, and it’s been really good. Right now I leave there feeling wiped out. Just drained. Maybe that’s how therapy goes, I don’t really know, I’m new at this. Or maybe over time it will be easier. I can feel things lifting, getting lighter and lighter, little by little. I think it’s working out.
A year ago, I didn’t even know that thing on my leg was cancer. All I knew was it didn’t look right, and a doctor should probably look at it. I am SO GLAD I made the appointment. Or I might not even be here today!
Today it feels like the actual start of my new year. I’ve been in kind of a holding pattern since 2014 started. Glad that 2013 was finally over, but not quite sure what comes next. Today feels significant. Today is what comes next. Today and the rest of the days. I’m changed, but I’m still me. And I can do this.