A Letter to Newly Diagnosed Me
Last updated: March 2023
Let me start there. You are so beautiful and have an inner strength that will change lives, even if you don't know it yet.
You have suffered in silence, with pain and fatigue that you chalk up to getting older and "being a woman."
You have googled the symptoms, and pages deep in the search, you may have glanced at the C word, but we all know google will tell you everything is bad and we are all dying.
You have danced on stages for thousands. You have held the hands of children as they take their first shaky steps on a balance beam. You have hugged little ballerinas as they walk off the stage from their first dance recital.
You have run fearlessly through the rain on a trek across the Appalachian Trail. You sang along with the fireworks at Disney. You have lived all over the sunshine state. You have been to Wrestlemania to see your favorite band 3 times and seen more than one sunburn across your freckled cheeks.
You have laughed with your whole body in the small hours of the morning. You've held the people you love and cried tears of loss.
The mountains have been high, the valleys low, and the road is always the scenic route.
You have experienced weakness
You have looked inside yourself, wondering if you're enough, if this is all enough, if you are worthy. You have second-guessed and worried. But in moments of apprehension, you have always had a tribe around you to lift you up.
All of this will not matter on a hot and humid July morning. All your strength, all your laughter, and all your power will be tested when you hear, "We think it's cancer."
Cancer will ravage your body. It will make you seek out the dark corners of your mind. You will face your own mortality and then make the difficult decision between accepting pain and fighting or giving yourself the grace to rest.
Somehow you will choose to fight. You will fight for all that you were and all that you still hope to be. And you will win.
Reconciling who you are
But the battle is only half won. You will spend years reconciling who you are now with who you were before. You will scream and cry and grieve the life you were supposed to have.
In that grief, you will build a new life, and if I can let you in on a little secret, it will be an amazing life. You will once again stand on stages telling your story.
You'll work with medical professionals and cancer foundations to improve research and education for this disease. You will even be published in The New York Times. I wish I could hold your hand in those dark, painful moments to let you know it gets better. It gets kind of amazing eventually, too.
Cheers to being changed for good
Although this "new normal" isn't what you ever planned or wanted, the fact that you survive is pretty awesome. No, you will never be the woman you were before your diagnosis.
Your life, your body, and your mind have been irrevocably altered. But like they say in your favorite musical Wicked, "Who can say if I've been changed for the better, but because (of my diagnosis), I have been changed for good."
Has cancer impacted your mood during the holidays?