Friday, March 3, 2017
Two days ago I gave blood as part of my bi-annual check up. I sat in a chair and stuck out my arm so the phlebotomist could take my blood. The phlebotomists for the most part are nice, but holy hell they are chatty. The people that work at a cancer hospital try so hard to make the patients happy. They are as nice as Disney employees. So Chatty Cathy over here with a damn needle in her hand, aimed for my vein, proceeds to tell me I need a type and screen for my procedure and they are going to take extra blood. Um, hey lady - I don't have a procedure. She says that I do. We go round and round like 3 year olds with "Yes you do" and "No I don't." While we are arguing, I email my nurse (whom I love) and ask her what the hell. As I am typing the email, Chatty Cathy says, "Well - the only other reason we do a type and screen is for someone who has been here a long time. Have you been a patient a long time?"
Have you been a patient a long time?
Yesterday, I went for my follow up appointment with my oncologist. I was not nervous because Nurse A had already called me to tell me I was fine. My doctor's other amazing nurse came out to get me. We chatted while my vitals were being taken. As I verified my date of birth, Nurse C says, "GIRL!! YOU'RE ABOUT TO BE 40!" I laughed and she then said, "Wow, I have known you a long time."
Wow, I have known you a long time.
I am healthy. I am alive. My remission status is stable.
I left the hospital, called my mom so she would stop freaking out, and then cried. I cried for the very reason I smile. It has been THIRTEEN years and while I am so thankful, I am terrified at the same time. Thirteen years ago, a different doctor told me I would be dead within five years. I was 27 at the time. And now thirteen years later, it is that memory I hold onto. The memory of being told I had five years to live, max.
Turning 40 means the world to me. I never thought I would see 40. I never thought I would be a mom. I never thought I would have a life. To face your own mortality gives you a perspective you cannot undo.
For thirteen years, I've woken every morning thankful.
For thirteen years, I have prayed nightly for another day.
Nothing good comes from fear except for my desire to live and then to make the most of each day.
When I let my preschooler miss a day of school because she wants to stay home.
When I take my girls for frozen yogurt.
When I play Candy Land.
When I decorate like crazy for birthdays.
When I go over and beyond.
When I travel.
When I laugh.
When I smile.
When I am truthful.
I do all these things because at one point in my life I thought I would never get to and because I never know if it will be the last time. From an outsider's perspective, this is morbid. I understand this. From my perspective, it allows me to really think and consider is this really how I want to spend my day.
When I discipline my child for being sassy.
When I limit her screens and social media.
When I make the girls learn life lessons even though they are throwing temper tantrums.
When I say no.
When I get aggravated.
When I let my emotions get the best of me.
When I stand up for what I believe in.
I do all these things because at one point in my life I thought I would never get to and because I never know if it will be the last time. I do all these things because I am true to myself. I am honest with myself. I live each day for myself and for those that are important to me.
I have one chance to make sure my girls become phenomenal women.
I have one chance to teach them independence, self worth, and kindness.
I have one chance to be a parent.
I have one chance to be a wife.
I have one chance to be a friend.
I have one chance to be a sister, a cousin, a niece, an aunt.
And I don't know when that one chance will end.
There are days that I make a fuck ton (in case you're wondering that's more than a shit ton) of mistakes.
There are days I take risks with my own life and then think to myself you're an idiot.
There are days I think too much and act too little.
There are days I act without thinking.
To hear the words "long time" from people at a cancer hospital is both exhilarating and startling.
To hear the words "long time" let's you know you are beating the odds. In fact, you are kicking the shit out of the odds.
To hear the words "long time" makes you realize the last thirteen years went by so quickly.
To hear the words "long time" gives you the realization that each day, each week, each month, each year is a gift.
I made a promise to myself, my family, my friends, my children to give it my all and in this house we don't break promises. Not ever.
I am strong in my faith to know I still have more time and I still have great things to accomplish.
But I'd be lying if I didn't say the thought of tomorrow never coming is what keeps me awake at night and what keeps me going each day.