Sucker Punch -one year later

April 14, 2010

A dear friend of mine reminded me today of this blog post I wrote almost a year ago. I thought I’d re-post it today and provide an update.

April 2009
It was a sucker punch. I never saw it coming. I was not paying attention. I looked the other way to survey the land that is my perfect life. I got distracted by my awesome new job and my smart beautiful children, my supportive and creative partners. I was spending time tending to the garden and admiring the yard that had blossomed for Spring. The dogwoods are magnificent this time of year. I was making new friends and reconnecting with others I hadn’t seen in ages. I was cooking great food and sharing fine wine with those I care for the most. I was busy attending the little church I’ve come to love. I had learned to pray to say “thank you” more often than I prayed to say “help me”.

I never saw it coming, because I was caught up in those beautiful moments. It was then that she hit me. Fate unleashed a blow that knocked me right to my knees. It was the kind of impact that leaves you unable to catch your breath for a few panicked moments, the kind that renders you dizzy and disoriented, left to wonder what just happened.

The sucker punch rendered quite a bruise, a bruise called breast cancer. That wound is going to take some time and considerable effort to heal. Cancer is the new unwelcome guest in my otherwise perfect life.

Fate, you underestimate me. I’ve been knocked down before. I’ve had to catch my breath after hard falls. I have had to contemplate what I might do next to survive. I have been frightened and scared, both of the things I know and the things I don’t understand. Fear and desperation are old friends of mine. I am well trained in figuring out how to make it through dark times. Fate, there is one thing you should understand about me. I always come up fighting. I am a fighter.

I once jumped over three bus seats to take on the town bully after she threatened my little sister. I was suspended from the school bus for the remainder of the academic year. My mother had to have one of those conversations with the principle. But I won. I once stood firmly in the middle of the NICU and made it abundantly clear that those tiny premature babies, the ones hooked to all those tubes and monitors, those were my babies. I will be the one to hold them. I will be the one to love them. I will be the one to care for them. Those babies belonged to me and like a mother dog protecting her pups, the growl came from deep within my soul. Everyone understood. I won.

So come on, Cancer! Come on, Fate! Do you want a piece of this? I am fighting for those babies again. They still need me. I am still their mother. The bully on the bus is part of our history but I am still protecting my little sister. She will worry too much, cry alone, and try to be stronger than she should, all for me. You won’t win because I am not going to let my mother ever feel the pain of losing another child. My lover, my friends, my God, my beautiful teenager, I will fight for all of them. You think you can take me? Think again.

This is a fight I plan to win.

April 2010
Last Sunday, I completed the St. Louis Go! Half-Marathon. Thirteen point one miles run side-by-side with my best friend. At the end, my jersey was soaked with sweat and with the tears of joy that had begun streaming down my face from the moment I could see the finish line in front of me. A year ago, I could not see the finish line in front of me.

From cancer patient to half-marathoner, what a difference a year makes. It feels so good to be on the other-side of this diagnosis. The glow of the dogwoods is especially bright this season. I am alive, and well, back to sipping wine and searing steaks on the grill while the yellow dog and the giggling girls play chase in the yard. Life is a little more carefree today and I am grateful for every minute.

But this fight is not over. Sadly I know more women who are looking out at their recent diagnosis and do not, can not see the finish line. I tell them to focus on single beautiful things, stay positive, fight. I share their fear. I cry with them. I sit quietly alone for a few minutes after I hang up the phone. I try not to be overly reminded of the darkness.

This is why I run.

This is why I’ll be there on June 12, at the Race for the Cure. I’ll be wearing my pink survivors jersey and yes, there will be tears of joy streaming down my face.

This too is a fight I plan to win.

Go! St. Louis

From left to right. Heather Seals, Cece Collins, Ronnie Gaubatz, Heather Stevens

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One Response to “Sucker Punch -one year later”

  1. jillnogales Says:

    Great post — I love your positive attitude!


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