Five years ago this month, I heard the dreaded words from my doctor “ You have breast cancer.” I will never forget that day, that moment, that fear. In an instant my world came crashing down and all things stopped. All future hopes and dreams paused and I wanted to give up. I didn’t want to fight Stage 2 cancer. I was emotionally paralyzed. It didn’t seem to be real. It was also very unbelievable because I was in such good shape. My oncologist kept saying “ You are in the best shape of your life. You are strong to fight this. ” Cancer doesn’t give those that are “healthy” a break. It doesn’t matter healthy, skinny, overweight, old, young, or underweight, etc. It comes when it comes and I believe it was the Providential hand in my life intervening
We are entering the “pink” month. Everything is pink because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We will even see football players in the NFL wear pink to show their support. I still shake my head at that one. I remember at that time I loathed the color pink. I couldn’t wear it and wouldn’t wear it. I refused because that would mean I’d have to admit cancer was real in my life. I was in complete denial. But I needed cancer, yes “needed” cancer, and I didn’t know it then. It turned my world upside down for the better.
Five years out from my diagnosis I can see how cancer was meant for my good. I can actually thank God for something so terrible and horrific. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that experience. Cancer did several major things for me.
First it weeded out people that weren’t authentic in my life. Those that ran and hid needed to exit my life. God was taking me deeper and only those that would withstand the trial would come out on the other side alongside me. Under the most stressful time of life, people show their true colors and unfortunately, losing those people hurt worse than cancer but ultimately it was for my good.
Second, it brought new friends into my life. Loyal friends, nurses and doctors gave me the love I needed to carry through. They saw me at my worst and still loved and cared for me. One new friend I made will always hold a special place in my heart. We bonded in a Starbucks bathroom showing each other our scars and wigs. That was so deeply meaningful to me because she understood. We had only known each other an hour but from that day till the present, I know when I call her to talk, she gets it. No one in the world understands quite like she does.
Finally, I think of all the women I have interacted with through my business since 2011. I have provided organizing services for female clients across the city of Chicago that have battled cancer or that have had a sister, aunt, daughter, grandma or mother battle cancer. I never knew cancer would help me be a better professional organizer. The amount of empathy and understanding towards my customers makes me serve them with passion and grace and less judgment. Gratefulness and remembrance overwhelms my heart during this month. I cringe as I remember the pain, nausea, and exhaustion but smile at the new friends, greater empathy and deeper sense of meaning to life. And today I wear pink!