I love Thanksgiving almost more than any other western holiday and this year was no exception, celebrating 3 times and gaining the weight of a small baby in 5 days. YAY!
Though, this year was different and allowed a greater depth to my thankfulness than other years.
You see, about one month ago my sister was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer.
This past Friday she had a double mastectomy.
Maybe today we’ll find out officially that she’s 100% cancer free.
Yah, what a month…
This is my family’s first proper introduction to the evil bitch that is Cancer. But for this limited interaction, I am thankful. What I’m not thankful for is that it hit us at all, and I suppose being a person who deals with “rage” on a daily basis, that’s not an uncommon feeling to have. My sister is only in her 40’s. She has three kids. She just opened her own business. And now, she has to rest. She has to take care of herself. There are no ifs, ands, or buts. The Evil C dictates this.
Her cancer is Stage 1, the earliest of the stages to be detected and one of the most effectively treated. For this, I am again so thankful. Most often with this type, the tumor is removed and chemotherapy comes soon afterward. In Andrea’s case, she decided to go through with the most hardcore version of preventative action and had a double mastectomy with the hopes of nipping Evil-C in the bud (boob?) and ridding herself of the constant worry that it will come back. Balls to the wall. Boobs to the wall?
And here is where I am the most thankful.
My sister is hard core. She did not fuck around with this. She didn’t even hesitate in her decision to go through this procedure. And from finding the lump herself (her mammogram came back clean just a few weeks earlier) to having the surgery, it was gogogogogo.
And maybe because she was so cool about the whole thing, I was cool about it, as well. I kept my head together, didn’t go down the usual road of freaking out, just played it like she was – cool, calm and collected.
But, the night before the surgery, I started getting weird.
Like, how could I not know what a big deal this actually was?
Why hadn’t it hit-me, hit-me that all of this was actually about to happen?
Why wasn’t I more prepared?
Why didn’t I do more research?
Why was I so scared?
How do I check myself?
What would happen to the store?
Who would help her after the surgery?
Will she be the same afterwards?
Can we talk about this?
She called me the morning of the surgery, and was again so chill and composed. I couldn’t believe the power and strength she was exhibiting. I had never been so proud. I knew that Mom would be at the hospital the entire surgery, and I knew that this was the waiting game. Time to be cool. Time to be patient.
When I saw her on the day after her surgery, those first few minutes were traumatic. Drugs can do that. Not ME being on drugs, but her. Morphine and Norcos – hard core shit. And sitting with her, I began to marvel about how incredible my sister is. Honestly, I was overcome with love. She curled up in my arms and slept on and off, all the while dealing with great pain, in-and-out visitors, doctors, nurses, on and on. She was kind and patient while everyone around her suffered through a myriad of their own roller coaster emotions. We laughed together, watched shitty movies (ok, I watched them, but she tolerated my choices when she was awake enough to notice), let me take pictures of her in a Santa headband, all the while she continued to care for those around her while we tried to, in turn, care for her.
She was THE strong one.
She IS the strong one.
She’s home now. And every day that I speak to her, her voice is more clear, she feels better, and continues to improve like a champion.
But I know that this is going to take a lot longer than I thought to get past. I now know that she knows that too. I know that our family is going to have to rally together to make sure she gets the rest and support she needs to heal properly. I know that my family is able to do this. I know that the love I feel for my sister, the love that our family has for each other, is its own entity that I celebrate and for which I am SO THANKFUL.
I wish that this hadn’t happened. I wish that my sister never had to deal with Evil C. But I am not sad. I am not mad anymore. I know that things could have been much worse than I could have ever imagined and I’ll take this scenario every time over another possible outcome.
I Am Thankful for This Moment.
I Am Thankful for This Outcome.
I Am Thankful for My Family.
I Am Thankful for My Sister.
I Am Thankful.