Every October brings back thoughts of my journey through breast cancer–not because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but because it is the month my surgery took place. That seems so long ago and far away now. When I was in the middle of it all, a friend who had been there told me that after a few years, it just seemed like a speed bump on the road of life. Now I know what she meant.
True, I was one of the fortunate ones–no need for chemotherapy. My surgery and radiation treatment went smoothly. There were days of frustration, some pain, much prayer, but overall it wasn’t that bad. I feel for my sisters who go through the losses that go with chemo: loss of hair, loss of energy, loss of time, and so much more. I sometimes feel like an imposter when I call myself a cancer survivor.
For the first five years after surgery, I walked (or ran) in the Komen Race for the Cure. It felt so good to be out with all those sisters in pink. I haven’t done so the past two years. I still feel it is a great thing to do and I am grateful for others who are involved, but cancer is no longer a big part of my identity.
My pastor recently made a point–in an entirely different context–about how we are shaped by the families that raise us. “The mold [family] you are poured into may shape your life, but it doesn’t define you.” I believe this applies to all of the circumstances of our lives. We are molded by the joys, the tragedies, the struggles we face, but we don’t have to let these things define us. We can choose who we will be.
I still have reminders of my cancer journey–the scars, occasional soreness when fluid builds up due to the missing lymph nodes–but cancer no longer fills my thoughts as it once did. There are–and will always be–other concerns and struggles to work through. Yet I will not let those define me. I am me–a child of God, a writer, a wife, a friend, a sister, a grandmother (love that role!), a person who wants to be a positive influence in this world. And my prayer for anyone who reads this is that you will be the person God made you to be–and that cancer will never defeat you!