Ironically, and this really had no bearing on the timing of making this blog public, SIX years ago today, July 18, 2006, I made my way into an operating room at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for the very first time. I was not nervous. I was having a surgical biopsy. However, in my mind, the word biopsy wasn't really part of the language of the day. I had atypical cells removed from a core biopsy and to quote my rock star radiologist, "We don't leave abnormal cells in anyone's body."
That was my frame of mind. That is how I skipped into the operating room, greeted by my rock star breast surgeon. There was no fear when I climbed on to the operating table. Yes, MSK is one of the hospitals where you walk into the operating room. I was asked my name and date of birth by at least six people while someone else was reading the band on my wrist and yet a third person was looking at my chart. Patient safety and medical errors are high priority at that hospital. In fact, for the second year in a row, MSKCC was named the second best cancer hospital in the country but in the category that is really of utmost importance, PATIENT SAFETY, they are at the top of the heap.
As I was welcomed to the party, I was asked, "What are you having done today, AnneMarie." I was at Spa Sloan and I should have replied, "single process touch up and a mani-pedi while the dye is doing its magic." Instead, I heard the words but couldn't recognize my own voice. As I was responding in dutiful fashion, my eyes caught a glimpse of a HUGE white board. I uttered the words surgical biopsy but everything began to spin as I saw the word lumpectomy plastered across that white board. Can't blame the spinning room on the anesthesia, either.... they don't touch you with a single mind altering substance until all of the questions are answered. The spinning room was because suddenly, I was in a cancer hospital, in an operating room, apparently having a lumpectomy. Somewhere deep inside, I knew I was headed down a lonely road. Despite a very large, exceptionally supportive and wonderfully loving family, while cancer may be a team sport with the sheer number of doctors and medical professionals in the game, cancer IS the ultimate solo journey. That was six years ago. Today.
And one year ago, I was anticipating the launch of this blog. I wonder if I even realized today was biopsy day. I doubt it. I was anxious to see this thing go live. I was curious if anyone would even realize it was here. Would I attain the one goal I set for myself? Validate just one person. Would anyone even read my nonsensical tales of how my brain seemed to have taken a permanent vacation? When the first comment appeared, and unlike Julie and Julia, it was NOT from my mom, I achieved what I set out to do. It was a short thank you. Ironically, the comment was made on July 27th. The Cancer Chasm Date. Sherry, where ever you are..... THANK you.
The rest? I'm not going to bore anyone with the details of every single thing that has happened in one year. My life took a left turn and I turned left and just went with it. If July 2010 through July 2011 was possibly one of the worst periods in my life, BAR NONE, these past twelve months have more than made up for the previous twelve. I found a voice. My voice. I pursued that which stirred a passion deep from within and it has nothing to do with shades of grey or anything else outside of myself. I am thankful for a wonderful group of people who have become friends. I've met quite a few people in the 3D world. We've stepped out of our computers and into cafes or meetings or the homes of friends. I've felt a kinship previously unknown to me. I have a sense of purpose. Real purpose.
To make a difference
To lend an ear
To steady a step
To hold a hand
To dry a tear
To speak softly with kindness
To shout with outrage
To be a Fearless Friend
Simply Just Be
Honoring my feelings no matter where they are on the emotional spectrum. Hopefully acting in a respectful manner whether I'm using my voice or communicating via my printed words. Agreeing to disagree. Being true to myself first. Standing firmly in my beliefs. Never losing sight of the big picture. Realizing that goals may be achieved incrementally and that's okay. Keeping a sense of idealism but acting from a place of realistic expectations.
If you've joined me in this adventure, thank you. I feel the support. It motivates me each day to do more, to be better, and to bask in the glow of a favorite quote:
It's never to late to become who you might have been.