Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's Not Over 'til it's Over... But now it is - and I'm Glad

You haven't heard from us in a while... and here's why:

(Note: you can pause or replay the music in the player on the right)

The good news is I went back to work...

The bad news is I was working too much too much to blog...

The good news is I'm not working anymore...

The bad news is I need to look for work and not mess around with personal blogging...

- so, this will likely be the last post to this blog for a long time.

Plus, it is kinda over - fortunately.

Today is the one-year anniversary of my double mastectomy. We think.

Larry and I mused over what would be an actual anniversary date - the surgery, the diagnosis, the suspect mammo? The start of chemo - or the end of it? Maybe it's not for another 5 years when the prescribed daily bone-crushing, hormone-blocking medication has had its run? Perhaps it's the finishing touches of breast reconstruction - slap on a coat of paint, hang the curtains and you're done, ma'am!

Yes, the journey started with a routine test and will end with tattoos (lavish ones - if I have my way), but the most iconic moment had to be the removal of the breasts - the banishing of the beast within them. As I write this now, I'm only too aware of this same day one year ago as I was wheeled into the operating room - wondering what and who would I be when I woke up.

I fought for my patient rights, I "handled" each harsh treatment with self-respect and compassion for my body. I returned to life in the working world and community with full force. I did it all with the support and good grace and love of my friends, family and colleagues - and most of all, my fantastic husband, Larry.

Yet, through tears of gratitude and triumph, I am grieving today. I realize, with everything else, I did not allow myself to do that all year. What really marks the days and hours of struggling to accept what had happened? And to not accept what didn't have to happen?
And - to make it through all.

I made it. We made it. Thank you.

I want to close this out with a poem, "Begin Again," by Anna McKenzie that a friend and fellow survivor, Dr. Melissa Johnson read at a recent Wellness Community gathering. She was introduced to this poem while in Ireland last summer on a women's retreat. The Irish friend who shared it said Anna wrote it while in prison in Chile.

Melissa's edited selection speaks best to my experience - plus, I (and I suspect most of you) belong to the CSAS (Church of the Short Attention Span). If you want to read the whole poem - email me - and I'll be happy to forward it on.
Please help me "Begin Again" by ending this conversation with your thoughts and comments and by being "Glad" (thank you, David Byrne) we got through it!

Love, amp

Begin Again

Selections from "Begin Again" by Anna McKenzie)

And so we must begin to live again
We of the damaged bodies
And the assaulted minds
Starting from scratch with the rubble of our lives
And picking up the dust of dreams once dreamt.

And as we stand there, naked in our vulnerability
Proud of starting over, fighting back
But full of weak humility
At the awesomeness of the task.

We take our first few steps forward
Into the abyss of the future
We would pray for
Courage to go places for the first time
And just be there
Courage to become what we have not been before
And accept it,
And bravery to look deep
Within our souls to find new ways.

We did not want it easy
But we did not contemplate
That it would be quite this hard,
This long, this lonely.

So if we are to be turned inside out
And upside down

With even our pockets shaken
Just to check what’s rattling
And left behind,
We pray that you will keep faith with us
And we with you

1 comment:

Nick DeMartino said...

Anna Marie's courage burned a hole in my heart, forged new pathways in my brain.

Some of us have been privileged to experience this in person, and others via the connections that radiated out from her here in electronic life. I've been thinking a lot lately about the impact of these technologies on community, on connection, on friendship, on my life...the passage of the days and years and those on our journey. Indisputably, the process of following Anna Marie, Larry, as the story unfolded, in those moments when the triumph was as-yet uncertain, was a privilege, and a testimony to the content of love that sizzles across these wires into the neurons and heartspace of eternity. Thank you for all of it, dear sweet Anna Marie. ---Nick