Two Years



Two years ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. What a roller coaster this has been. Diagnosed, book contract, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, making art, writing about it, Switzerland, Dreaming from the Journal Page, getting used to being a flat chested woman. Oh, did I mention the love and care that I was showered with while doing all of this? No. Well, I was, and am, really. I often think that cancer teaches me that I am loved beyond my ability to grasp or comprehend. There is grace in cancer and this is the gift it gave me.

Today, this month, I am focusing on settling, releasing, accepting who and what I am now. These last few months have been filled with anxiety and depression, neither of which I handle very well. None of us do. So instead of focusing on what I cannot change, or even the things I can change, I choose to immerse myself in making. I am focused on The 20 Common Birds in Decline, because I love birds, they calm and center me, I have a physical memory of drawing their heads, wings, evaluating where light hits their eyes. Making helps me to relax and relaxing is what I seek. 

It takes a fair amount of time to let go of the intensity of medical need, appointments, follow up visits, managing side effects and I am not out of the woods yet, I still receive monthly shots, infusions once every six months (next week will be the 3rd out of a total of 4), and I experience the effects of medically induced menopause. Ugh.

So I am making a concerted effort of focus on immersing myself in what makes me happy, content, able to look beyond this difficulty and to balance the crap with the fantastic. It is time to reset my outlook. Cancer sucks, but life, life does not and that is what I have now. Thank goodness.

Thank you for your love, care, appreciation and support. It has not gone unnoticed. I tend to keep the cancer narrative to myself, but I find I start feeling quite alienated by doing so. So there you have it. These last few months have been tough and I am ready to let it go.


10 thoughts on “Two Years

  1. Hi Melanie,
    I think you are an incredibly brave woman, facing this disease and making the best of it, for baring your soul and your mind.
    I sent some breast pockets to you a few months ago and I wonder if that project is still on ?
    I ask because my good friend and neighbour, Andrea Abbott Singer, lost her battle with cancer this week. She gladly donated a few breast pockets when she heard, from me, about your project. She was a double mastectomy over 30 years ago, raised 4 children, has 10 gr.children, lost her husband to lung cancer 14 yrs. ago … and she kept right on living a great and productive life. She just turned 73 in December. She was eulogized by every one of her children who praised the woman she was, despite the various illnesses that she had overcome in her life … and she went out smiling and joking with all that came close.
    I mailed those pockets just before Sandy hit … I hope they weren’t lost.
    Melanie … keep on being so inspiring !


  2. Beautifully written and eloquently said. I hope to handle the next two years with the grace and strength you’ve shown. I’m at that point… what’s next? We really do have to come up with a new reality, a new normal, almost like reinventing ourselves, a new character in the book of life that was suddenly snatched from us and replaced with the C experience. If you ever need to talk about health or C I’m here, I’m a good listener. XO!


  3. Roller coaster ride, indeed! But I am so glad you are able to share your experience, even the bad days! It is part of your story, and has impacted you and those who care about you. You refused to let cancer stop you from living! You did battle, endured pain, fear, misery, depression, anger, suffering… but you have shared hope, delight, laughter, joy and love with us as well. I know the journey is not over, that you still have days ahead that won’t be fun, but never for a moment should you think that you are alone. We may not be there with you physically, but you have so much love and support coming to you from all over! And now your new little furry angel to help you through the days and share love and laughter with you… enjoy every moment, and keep us posted no matter what!


  4. All I can say is that I deeply respect your courage and your candor in sharing this with us. I can’t even imagine going through what you’ve been through and are still going through (although I’ve had my share of experience with cancer through loved ones, my father being the most important one). I hope you feel happier and calmer soon and wish you a peaceful and healthy 2013.


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