And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

It’s amazing, really, what dates stick in our minds.

Wedding anniversaries. My first marriage began on June 27, 1981. My second marriage began on October 9, 1999.

Birthdays. Mine, July 29. Michael’s, December 27. My four kids, 1/18, 3/12, 4/8, 10/17. And the day I miscarried, my lost child’s birthday: 12/21/1999.

Graduations, at least mine: High school, 6/1978, college, 8/1982, graduate school, 1/2004.

My business, AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop’s birthday: If I go by when I formed the LLC, 11/2004. The grand opening, 1/2005.

Many days. Momentous days. Days when, for better or worse, my life changed.

When I opened my eyes this past Monday morning, I lay still for a moment and thought, Five years.

On June 20th, 2017, I had an appointment for a mammogram. I ran in, as I was late and in a hurry, as I was often late and in a hurry. I was busy, so busy, that I hadn’t had my yearly mammogram in 3 years. Other things, other people, always took precedence. With my eye on the clock, I ran into the clinic, stripped, and cooperatively followed every instruction to stick those two portions of myself into the machine, so that I could be on my way.

And then, instead of letting me go with a cheery, “Radiologist says all is fine! See you next year!”, the radiologist himself came in to see me. About twenty minutes later,  I left in a daze, holding an appointment reminder in my hand for a needle biopsy. The radiologist’s words rang in my head: “I’ll be honest. I usually tell women that they have a 20% chance that this is cancer, and an 80% chance that this is nothing. With you, I’m flipping that. I’d say it’s an 80% chance that it’s cancer.”

He was right.

What followed was a blur of doctor’s appointments, the sudden inclusion in my life of a “medical team” formed of a surgeon, a radiation oncologist, and a medication oncologist, two biopsies, when I was told I was at Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma, a breast MRI, when I was told it was actually Stage 2, and a partial mastectomy, when I was told that the tumor was larger than expected and I was actually at Stage 3. 20 rounds of radiation. 5 years of estrogen-squashing medication which came with its own set of side effects and issues. And a blur of emotions too.

I was also told that if I hadn’t been so busy, so much in a hurry, and I’d come in for my regular mammograms, it likely would have been caught at Stage 0 non-invasive ductal carcinoma,

If I just wasn’t so busy. If other things, other people, didn’t always take precedence.

What a hard, hard year.

But this past Monday, I woke up, looked at the ceiling, and thought, Five years.

Five years since the word cancer entered my description. I would never again answer, “No,” to questionnaires that asked if I had cancer. On June 27th, this coming Monday, it will be five years since my official diagnosis. July 25th, it will be five years since the partial mastectomy.

And this year, on July 29th, 2022, the birthday when I will turn 62, one of those dates I remember, I will be taking my last estrogen-squashing little yellow pill.

It will be all done. As all done as it can be, anyway.

My medical team has melted away, leaving me only with my medication oncologist. I am back to having a mammogram only once a year, and it will always be met. There are no more breast MRIs. I have a prosthesis, but I don’t know when the last time was that I wore it. I have grown used to one breast being smaller than the other. If anyone notices, well, it’s just a part of who I am now.

Someone who is trying very hard to not always be in a hurry. Someone who is trying to put self-care in the forefront. Other people and other things do not always have to come first. And the amazing thing? Those other people still understand that I love them completely.

My moment of happiness? The first of three five-year anniversaries is here, and it will be capped off with the final little yellow pill.

I’m alive. I’m cancer-free. And I have learned so much from this experience.

I looked back on the original blog, Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News, and this is what I wrote for my moment on that day:

6/20/2017: And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Well, this is going to be a hard one.

How do I come up with a moment of happiness on a day where mammogram results go the wrong way?

I went in today for a routine mammogram. I expected to be in and out. Instead, the radiologist saw something in my right breast on the pictures and he asked for an ultrasound. Then he saw something there too. On Monday, there will be a needle biopsy. On Tuesday, I will know what I’m facing or if I’m facing nothing at all.

And to think I was scared of the dentist.

New fear now. New what-ifs.

But a friend said today, “Don’t get your head too far out over your skis now.” So I got off the skis entirely. And I will wait the long wait until Tuesday.

So what’s the moment of happiness?

Just this. I know if I’m facing something, I won’t be facing it alone. And I know if I’m not facing anything at all, there will be many celebrating with me.

Not skiing, but standing.

And not alone.

I’m grateful.

And yes, this helps. Despite. Anyway. 

Five years later, I am still grateful. Not being alone got me through. And learning to sometimes put myself first still gets me through.

Thank you.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.   

I wasn’t sure what photo to put here, but I figured our first bloom of the year from the lilies in the front of our house would do.
Believe it or not, that first year of this blog, which includes the breast cancer experience, became a book by popular demand and my publisher’s insistence. You can order it at https://www.amazon.com/Todays-Moment-Happiness-Despite-News-ebook/dp/B07FK45MKH/ref=sr_1_6?crid=3O90S0WYS7IUK&keywords=Kathie+Giorgio&qid=1656019734&s=books&sprefix=kathie+giorgio%2Cstripbooks%2C95&sr=1-6

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