Celebrating the Milestones
Celebrate the milestones… This became my mantra during my cancer journey. All in all, I spent a year and 4 months of my life devoted to intense cancer treatments. Mastectomy to chemo to radiation oh my! It was all a whirlwind. It was also a LONG time to push pause on my “normal life”. I love running long distances and I found the same strategy of breaking the overall cancer journey into smaller sections made it feel more tolerable. Not only did I look forward to the next check box of completion, I made sure I gave homage and love to the milestone that was completed.
When I finished all of my chemo treatments, my husband and I made a celebratory trip to Milwaukee, WI. We stayed at a fun boutique hotel, we ate at a fancy restaurant, and we enjoyed the local microbreweries. There was an amazing custard shop on the way, and I treated myself to some delicious key lime custard. I still remember savoring every morsel of the tart key lime paired with the delicious pockets of cream and the amazing surprises of graham cracker. At this point in time, I still had radiation and reconstruction to go. However, I needed to honor my body for surviving the 16 rounds of toxic cocktail that had flowed through my veins. I had to see if the girl before cancer was still there?
After all my big treatments were complete, I went with 15 of my closest friends and family to Las Vegas to celebrate. With my pixie short hair and a sunburn looking square on my chest and arm, we celebrated with zip-lining, dancing at the piano bar, and an epic pub crawl. On my first night in Vegas, eating with the fountains in the background, the most beautiful rainbow appeared. I knew my grandma was celebrating alongside of me.
From that point in time, I have stopped celebrating. I remember each and every birthday since my cancer diagnosis. I celebrate every year, hey I’ve earned them! I celebrate every cancer-versary. My five year cancer-versary was a BIG DEAL, and I found 5 breweries in Traverse City to spread some love and cheer. For me, it’s all about living!
How do you measure time after 5 years of cancer??? To me, it’s measured in beautiful sunsets viewed, or bear hugs given… it is time spent laughing, or speeches given… it is how many times you have told someone you love them… it is the number of times you challenge yourself and the number of times you forgive yourself… it is in every breath and in every heart pounding moment… it is in prayers for those in need and in memories of these we lost…. Five years goes so so fast, take a minute to celebrate life, take it all in, and hug those you love…
I also wrote a poem titled, “Celebration”.
Celebrate, today is the best day of your life
Celebrate after the hardship and strife
Celebrate, you got this girl
Go grab that life and give it a whirl
Celebrate yesterday, tomorrow but mostly today
Celebrate with an adventure in a childlike way
Celebrate with every ounce
With love in your heart, it’s all that counts
Celebrate, give thanks, give praise
Celebrate all of your minutes, all of your days