Sometimes the title says it all. (One Year) Cancer Free Day is a Big F-ing Deal. Maybe all the years will be big. Moving forward there will be anniversaries, but it’s only the first year you can look back on, because that’s when IT happened.
I didn’t buy a card for the occasion, I didn’t buy flowers, I didn’t buy a bottle of wine. But I do have a gift:
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes. How do you measure a year in the life? I’m about to tell you.
The past year has been one we won’t soon forget. Today, one year ago, you were preparing for a life-changing surgery which you faced with determination and strength. I still remember the nurse taking your vital signs and then saying, “you’re a perfectly healthy 40-year-old woman, except you have breast cancer”. I can still see them wheeling you down the hallway, away from me, toward the operating room, knowing it would be the last time I would see you exactly the same way, and it had nothing to do with how you would look coming out.
No, it had everything to do with the person I saw in recovery. The woman, who at that moment, became a hero to all who love her and to all who know anything about her. Debbie you acted swiftly and without hesitation to make sure you would be the same person to us…to me, to Sophie, to Emily. You made a huge sacrifice and because of your will to give of yourself, we got more than the person who had just hours before, sat shivering in a hospital gown about to face one of the biggest moments of her life. In return, we received a stronger, more resilient, tougher, and even more beautiful person inside and out, if that’s even possible. Now you were a warrior, a survivor.
And make no mistake, beating breast cancer had nothing to do with you and everything to do with you. The doctors stepped in for the surgery, and the results were positive, in our favor, big time. They took control and we lucked out. But when the last stitch was sewn, the last drain removed, the final pill popped, then the medical book closed. The next story to be written was up to you. Where do you go from here?
I’ll tell you where and it’s not down any yellow brick road. You got up, you got out, and you got on with it. Debbie you showed our family, you showed everyone, how it’s done. Our lives, mine, Sophie and Emily’s, barely skipped a beat. How is that possible? It seems impossible, yet ordinary people do extraordinary things all the time. It was only possible because the person who took the punch, got right back up and carried on. Deb, I don’t know what we would do without you. You continue to amaze me and your girls every single day. You gave up so much and yet were able to still give so much in return. You exemplify what is right about life, those who face adversity can truly become more than they ever were before. You had every right to go the other way… breast cancer is a bitch. So unfair. It’s a shame, that you, or any woman should have to suffer just because what makes you different can, without warning, be ravaged by bad cells. The very thing that physically make you female, suddenly makes you sick. It’s a f*ing crime.
But there were few tears here. Plenty of tired days and nights. Plenty of pain and physical suffering. But you my love, kept most of it out of sight. Instead you put on the brave face and showed the sense of humor which endears you to so many. And g-d forbid you could ever let what happened cause you to skip even a step from being there for whatever your girls needed. You stayed steadfast and on course with life’s most important reponsibility. Sophie and Emily are who they are because of you, and believe me they have learned so much, even if they don’t show it yet. How could they not? Their Mom is one of a kind.
So it’s time to celebrate, to celebrate life and how it continues to be this crazy ride. One Year Cancer Free, the words sound good to say, good to hear, and as good as it gets. And on the cusp of another Mother’s Day Weekend I simply want to say thank you. I think I’ve done a fairly good job over the past year of making sure my words would be something we would remember. My words had power, especially for me, because without the chance to write, to share our story, and to let my feelings pour from my heart and onto these pages, I’m not sure what I would have done.
But sometimes words fall short. And this is one of those times. I could write for days, months, or years and never be able to truly express how I feel about you and what you mean to my life. I might not always say it either, but I can only hope from this past year, from my posts, from my actions, you are beginning to get the point.
We go back a long way. I’ve known you since you were in your teens. I fell in love with you when you were in your twenties. I’ve admired you for what seems like a hundred years. And I will respect you for all eternity.
One Year Cancer Free. Here we are.
I love you.