Several days before the one year anniversary of learning the radiologist had found a suspicious mass on my right breast I began feeling very emotional. It was so unlike me to have a sense of time or even a keen awareness of an anniversary - it felt like the diagnosis experience was happening all over again and that I had time traveled back one year to that moment when "I knew".
Once again, I experienced the fear, the dread, the anxiety of the unknown. But this time, one year later, it was even more real, more raw, more emotional than it was the first time around. I've cried a couple of times over the past several days as I've moved through the phases of the diagnosis process from the routine screening to the follow up ultrasound to the biopsy to the confirmation of the results. It's baffling to me as to why, one year later, it's more emotional than it was in the moment.
I haven't yet given myself the space to search my heart for the reasons. In the holiday rush of things there doesn't seem to be time - but I also suspect it's because I don't want to face the emotions that have been stored away for over a year. After all, my treatment was short and it was highly successful. What is there for me to be sad about?!
One year ago, my fear was real but I did not allow myself to give into the fear - I was a warrior who relied on rational thinking and logic to control my responses to the things that were done to my body. All of the needles, the incisions, the radiation treatment - all of it was so invasive to my very being and yet I offered myself up, sustaining the injuries done to my body in the name of medicine, all the while absorbing and storing the emotional impact of the actual treatment.
One year. One year to finally accept and hopefully begin to come to terms with what I valiantly endured but did not allow myself to feel. One year to set aside my attempts to override the emotions with thoughts of, "but I was so blessed that my cancer was caught early." It doesn't matter when cancer is caught - it is still cancer and it is a physical, emotional, and spiritual journey.
COVID is providing an acceptable "out" from the typically activities of Christmas - for that, I'm grateful. I need this time and space to release these year old feelings to make room for health and vitality in the years to come.