The day after my double mastectomy/reconstructive surgery, my nurse navigator (yes, one of my angels) gave me a gift bag full of items to help make my recovery a little easier. A special pillow, some lotion, magazines, chapstick, etc., and a letter. The letter was from a fellow cancer warrior. This letter moved me to tears. It was like this person had been living in my heart and soul and knew exactly where I was in my journey and what I needed to hear so that moving forward seemed achievable. I didn't know this woman and she didn't know me. I received the letter because this amazing program existed where cancer warriors wrote anonymously to other warriors and our angel navigators gave us a letter following surgery. I have thought about this letter quite a bit and to this day it gives me strength. You see, surgery wasn't as easy as I had expected. I was stunned when I found out that I had a greater number of lymph nodes involved and impacted with cancerous cells and as a result had to have more lymph nodes removed than what my doctors and I had anticipated, even after 20 weeks of chemotherapy running through my veins. I didn't know what that meant as far as if the cancer had spread more or if I was "cancer free" at that point. There was just so much uncertainty. I read the letter from my warrior, and she helped me regain my mindset and my strength so that I could spread my wings and deal with whatever was coming at me next with the same grace, strength and patience that I worked so hard for during chemo. In retrospect, this letter served as a source of inspiration for me to not give up my fight post surgery as well, when I became septic and was fighting for my life in that ICU bed. As I've been now navigating my post-treatment, clinical trial, as far as I know cancer free world, I recently thought about that letter again. I decided it was time for me to give back. I hope that I can inspire, calm or just be there for someone else in their time of need. After I wrote my letter it occurred to me that we are all warriors of some kind. We all have trials and challenges that force us to "warrior on". So I"m sharing my letter so that whatever you are going through...I hope you know how amazing you are and that you are capable of so much more than your situation....
My Dearest Warrior,
You are phenomenal. You are strong. You are a full on, full of grace hero and so incredibly brave. I have walked in your shoes and I know how scary, isolating and heartbreaking this journey can be. I know it seems like you've been handed a raw deal and that life just isn't fair. That's true. I know what it's like to feel like you've been thrown down a bottomless black pit that you have to fight to climb out of. It's the hardest thing in the world to do. BUT, I also know what it's like to climb out. To embrace the challenge set in front of you and learn some of life's greatest lessons in the process, is nothing short of spectacular. It is during our darkest times that truly we find our greatest strengths. We discover who we really are and how much fight we have within us. We may not have power over our circumstances, but we have power over how we react to them. That truly is where our power lies. As hard as some days are, think of each step of this journey as a gift. What you are learning about yourself and others will change your perception of life, your values, your priorities, your hopes and your dreams. Embrace each day and be so proud of who you are and what you have endured. You are not alone.
You will rise again and you will be the best version of yourself imaginable. Keep on fighting my fierce warrior, I'm so very proud of you.