Thursday, October 26, 2006

10 years ago - happy day today for me.

The journey. I have a title I did not want. SURVIVOR. For 10 years today. This day is a big deal in the medical community. Seems like by magic, my risk of having breast cancer again just dropped in half. Today. Statistically anyway. This was the very first thing I thought about this morning. I can buy life insurance again today. That's a stupid thought to have, but the insurance companies have this magic formula they use for "high risk" people. 10 years is magic for them too.

Did something in me change overnight? No. The cosmic shift in my universe happened 10 years ago. When Dr. Howard Abney said to me "you don't have cancer anymore." I don't remember much else after those words. The "C" word flew across that desk and embedded itself into my brain at that moment, blocking every other incoming words after that. In my case, the word was powerful and took much longer to get over than the surgery.

I am different though, now. I have an appreciation for life that celebrates even the smallest pleasantries. I have eliminated as many negative (and therefore burdensome) people from my life as I can. I embrace and enjoy life and love with every thing I have. I am more patient with some and less with others. My faith is stronger, in God and in myself. While I cannot celebrate having cancer, I can tell you that there were positive changes in me from the journey.

Right before my surgery was the only true "pity party" I had. We were in Valdosta, Georgia in a hotel room, my surgery was scheduled for the following Thursday and I woke up just knowing that the "feeling sorry for myself" needed to happen. I told my husband that I was going to cry and he had options. I did not care which option he chose. Those options -- #1 cry with me -- #2 watch me cry -- #3 leave me alone and let me cry. He went and fixed breakfast in the lobby. I threw said pity party and then got on with the process. This story is funny to me even today. I even planned my pity party.

Surgery, recovery, proclamation, self evaluation, positive outcome, 10 year celebration. A journey I did not choose, but made anyway and have made the best of it.

This pillow is my own design, made during the last few years, and described by me as a healing piece. For many years, everything I worked on was dark and bland, then as I embraced the small celebrations of everyday life, color came back into my world. This is a mixed media cross stitched piece. If you click on the picture, you can see the details better. I stamped the quotes on muslin and stiched them to the aida fabric. The floss was a mixture of unlabeled vintage threads and other things I had purchased. There are words of life throughout. I had no pattern and no plan except to use the vintage floss as a symbol of my past, to include the words I was celebrating as the simple things life needs, and the quilt patterns reflecting the thousands of little stitches that make up a beautiful life.

This piece has been requested for display at my local stitch shop as a celebration for the Thanksgiving Holidays. They have also asked me to put together a display of my work for the store and the girl in charge of a national magazine has expressed interest in my designs for feature in an industry publication.

I have known about this for a little while and thought about sharing it, but I wanted to include it with the 10 celebration of my new life. I have always been a crafter, but part of the changes I have experienced in my life after cancer, is that I am trusting the inner artist in me. I have done designs for me and for swaps, but putting them into a public arena is a little uncomfortable. Exciting but uncomfortable. A few of my closest friends know that my dream is to be able to teach in a shop environment - own my own shop for creative pursuits - and design some patterns for small scale distribution. I am hoping this will be the beginning of that process becoming a reality.

Life is worth celebrating. Every tiny thing is worth experiencing. Look for beauty in your surroundings, you will find it. Look for comfort in your surroundings, you will find it. Look for strength in yourself and those around you, you will find it. Look for love of yourself, for yourself, from others, and for others, you will find it. The big bad things in life are easier to deal with if you have those thousands of tiny things making up a foundation for you.

My life is beautiful - I wish for yours to be too.

Have a wonderful day.


Vallen said...

Proud to call you a friend.

DivaDeb said...

Dear soul, I rejoice for you and celebrate with you on this monumental anniversary! Bless you and your new 'freedom'...

Jean said...

What a super post! What a GREAT feeling to be "free"! I just had my 9th year visit with my oncologist and was told I didn't need to come back. I had melanoma. It wasn't as invasive as breast cancer but I know how good I felt so can relate. I did a post on it that day too.