Happiness is…

Happiness is ______. (fill in your blank)

Today, for me, happiness is my cancer-free sister.

I was talking to a very dear family friend who is so encouraging and supportive of everything I do. She is especially wonderful when it comes to my girls and now, this blog. She is always reassuring but has made me feel as if this space will actually help someone. That, after all, is part of my goal. Help someone, somewhere, somehow by sharing my experience. I was saddened to hear that her own sister’s battle with breast cancer is not going well. I didn’t know that her sister’s cancer had progressed as much as it had and I didn’t know it was found while she was breast feeding. Hearing this aspect of her story confirmed that the proposed timing of my double mastectomy is correct.
When my husband, my parents and I met with my breast surgeon, the goal was to find out if I should wait until after we try to have a third child or before. Would a pregnancy fuel a hormone receptive cancer if one existed or developed while I was pregnant? Would they be able to monitor me while pregnant and breast feeding? What would happen if they found something while I was pregnant? I think “maybe” was the answer to the first question but the answers to the other two sealed the deal for me. No, I could not have a mammogram while I was pregnant or breast feeding (I am even having to wait two months post weaning to have my first mammogram). And if they found something by palpating while I was pregnant? “disaster”. She needn’t say anything more. I was definitely having the surgery before the next kid. To play devil’s advocate, I asked what if I took the 9 month chance while pregnant and then just didn’t breast feed? Her response was, “then why keep the boobs?”. Good point.
My heart aches for my friend whose sister found her cancer while breast feeding. Moments after I left my friend today, my sister texted me that her pathology report was all clear and that she is now cancer free. I could not be more elated and relieved. I wish I could reverse the hands of time and have our dear friend get that same news. Isn’t that typical, to hear such a tragic story and then seconds later receive the best news? I hope for only good news for everyone I know, but that’s not realistic. I suppose all I can do is be there for my friend when she and her family need anything. Whether it’s an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or a funny bone to tickle and distract, I hope she knows I am here for her. There will always be good times and bad but hopefully the good outweighs the bad. Today, for me, it definitely does.

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