How I Celebrate the New Year With Metastatic Breast Cancer
How Cancer Changes Your Life — or Doesn’t
Living with metastatic breast cancerdoesn’t change that. What it has changed is what the New Year means to me. I celebrated New Year’s Eve 2013 with a new diagnosis; breast cancer had returned after almost 10 years and had spread to my lungs. I truly didn’t know what that meant for 2014. I didn’t know how many new years were in my future.
Metastatic breast cancer isn’t going away for me, at least not if we don’t find a cure — which has been long promised — but that is another story. That means that on each New Year’s Day since 2014, I have breathed a sigh of relief and felt grateful for another milestone. It isn’t the only milestone, but it is an important one. It is hard to live with terminal cancer and not be aware that each year could be your last. It’s hard not to ring in the New Year without wondering if you will be here next year to do it again.
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, I was committed to not allowing it to change my life. In some ways it did, but for the most part, it didn’t. After treatment, I got the “all clear” and carried on chasing goals and dreams. Of course, I had the added trepidation that cancer could return, in addition to an increased number of doctor visits, but otherwise, as time passed and I moved away from that diagnosis, it became less and less of a threat to me.
That changed when I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Everything changed. Today, my work, my routine, and almost everything else revolves around continued treatment and the fight for survival. I am vigilant and focused on staying well. On the other hand, I am also pretty set on having a good time and living life to the fullest.
Would we have gone on a last-minute trip had I not been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer? Maybe, but probably with not so much abandon and with no guilt about having other things to do that were more important.
Each Year Is Precious
Yes, for me, each year is a milestone, as well as each birthday, each holiday, and every Sunday! But each year brings with it new opportunities to be with the people I love, new places to visit, and more days to be bossed around by my dogs. Each year is precious, and I can’t wait for the next one. Well, maybe I can wait for the next one, and the next one, and the one after that. You get what I mean.
Survive and Shine,
Photo: Simon Bond/Getty Images
Video: 2018 New Year Celebrations Around The World | NBC News
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