What a difference 5 years can make

2014. Just writing that gives me a shudder. Hands down the worst year of my life. But here I am able to look back feeling pretty strong. There are several five-year milestones this year that have or will pass.

This week’s however seemed like the one actually worth celebrating – as I did when it occurred five years ago. Monday marked five years since my last radiation treatment. As soon as I left Memorial Sloane Kettering that afternoon in 2014, I posted on Facebook “Done! Done! Done! Now to get my reward…” and found the nearest Mister Softee truck.

I had given up dairy shortly after my diagnosis and felt a soft-serve cone was a small indulgence I had certainly earned! It was a quiet, private celebration. At the time, I didn’t want to celebrate too much. Although my oncologist had told me that I had no evidence of disease, I still didn’t quite feel like a “survivor” just yet.

And of course, we never want to jinx ourselves. So, Monday I celebrated quietly too. I reminded my boyfriend at dinner Sunday night and my daughter at another point in the day. I went for an 8-mile run. I shared on Facebook the original “Done!” post for my inner circle who were the only ones who understood it five years ago. Five years ago, only those close to me knew. It wasn’t something I went into detail about on social media and it was long before I became a blogger. Now of course I talk about it.

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Reflecting. North Avenue Beach. Chicago, Illinois. August 2019.

I am now able to look back at my cancer diagnosis – Stage 1 Invasive Lobular Carcinoma that was successfully removed with a lumpectomy and further eradicated with 4 weeks of radiation and now a daily dose of Tamoxifen – and almost forget how scary that was. Thanks in part to the rest of 2014 that unbelievably overshadowed something as significant as a cancer diagnosis. But this isn’t about that.

This week is about acknowledging the fact that I am surviving cancer and celebrating how far I’ve come. When I was asked why I am running the Chicago Marathon and raising money for Gilda’s Club Chicago this year, I explained, “When I first ran Chicago in 2015 it was almost exactly a year after (my husband’s) death. I ran for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This year, 5 years after his death, I’m running for Gilda’s Club – I’m running for ME.”

This week I am celebrating five years of holding it all together, taking small steps and large steps forward; over-coming obstacles and navigating detours. It hasn’t been easy. And I could beat myself up for not being as far along in this journey as I thought I’d be; but I’m working very hard to stop doing that.

This week…this whole freaking year actually…I am celebrating who I’ve become. And it’s all good. 2019.

Please help me celebrate by supporting me in my effort to raise funds for Gilda’s Club Chicago through the 2019 Chicago Marathon. Please use this link.

What I like most about GC is that they support the emotional side of the cancer diagnosis – for everyone living with cancer – regardless of the type of cancer or your roll (the one with cancer, family member or friend). Cancer touches all of us – and coping with the effects of that diagnosis, as I saw the toll it took on my family, can be extremely difficult.

In addition to being a member of Team Gilda for the Chicago Marathon, I am also volunteering my time to coach a 9-week 5k training program for Gilda’s Club members who are new to running or looking to get back to running. They will be running the Bucktown 5k on October 6, a week before the marathon. If you’re in the Chicago area, please come cheer them on. If you are not, please consider making a donation to my fundraiser. No gift is too small…or too large. 🙂

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