October 13th, 2010 marks ten years to the day since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Ten years ago, it was a Friday the 13th. This year, it's a Wednesday the 13th. Not that I'm superstitious or anything, but just by the date things are looking up.
The number 10 in itself holds a lot of meaning. 10 is the number of lunar months to bring a baby from conception into the world. In Hinduism, 10 represents the incarnation of God. In Judaism, 10 symbolizes absolute completeness. Christians today live by the 10 Commandments. For cancer survivors, 10 years represents being cured.
My oncologist still won't call me cured, but we both know this marks a milestone in my battle against breast cancer. After this month I will no longer take the drug Femara. I must admit, that makes me happy and frightened at the same time. It's a drug that blocks all the estrogen in my body, cutting off a source of fuel for the type of cancer cells I carried. Studies have shown they have no benefit for women after ten years, so now I stop. The good news, I will have a little estrogen back in my body. The bad news, I will have a little estrogen back in my body. I'm hopeful there are no hidden cancer cells floating around, waiting for fuel to reignite them. But, I have done everything possible to kill the cancer, and I must believe that all those rogue cells are gone. Whatever happens, I am so grateful that God allowed me to have these last ten years of my life.
I was alive to celebrate my 20 year anniversary with my wonderful husband Tony. I watched my little 2-year-old princess grow into a beautiful, smart and loving 12-year-old young lady. I proudly witnessed my husband retire after 22 years in the Air Force. I suffered through Nicole's first lessons on clarinet and piano, and am able to enjoy the fruits of that labor as she now excels in both. So much living has happened over the last 10 years, I am hopeful I have another 10 (at least) ahead of me.
It was a routine self-breast exam that launched a journey that changed me, my family and my future forever. The cancer diagnosis forced me to deal with many demons.
I had pity demons. Poor me - chemo ruined the taste of food. Poor me - I had vomiting and weakness. I also had the ego demons. Poor me - I look all pasty and sick. Poor me - I am bald.
But, in the midst of all the demons, I was surrounded by angels who carried me through and blessed me immensely. My family, my friends and perfect strangers who witnessed my battle on television, lifted me up in prayer and gave me the strength and courage to keep up the fight. It was actually all those letters and emails and phone calls from you - the viewer - that gave me the idea and the strength to anchor a newscast bald.
That unforeseeable and unwanted path that I stumbled upon 10 years ago, I now know, is the exact path I was supposed to be on. It wasn't always easy or pleasant, but it was enriching and an important part of my life's journey. My life plan didn't go exactly as I had charted. I never had a second child, but I feel as though I have 10 with the wonderful friends Nicole has made. And now, as I pass the 10 year mark, I know I will face many new challenges in my life. Whatever they are, I just pray for God's guidance and strength and that I learn as much from the next 10 years of my life as I did from the last. Hopefully, no chemo needed!