Sunday, September 11, 2016

The one about September 11th...but not THAT September 11th

On September 11th, 2015, I was an emotional basket case just doing my best to hold it together. Literally. It was two days after my double-mastectomy and reconstructive surgery and I was a mess of stitches and bandages and tubes. I had these new Frankenboobs and I looked like I was in a knife fight (and lost). It was a shitty day (for so many obvious reasons) and I remember watching a documentary on 9/11 and desperately wanting the phone to ring - I was waiting for a phone call from my nurse. I was waiting for the results of my lymph node biopsy. I wanted her to call and tell me that my lymph nodes were all clear. No cancer found. Success. I was willing her to make that call and tell me some good news. If I kept putting the positive thoughts/juju/vibes/wishes out into the universe, it would come to fruition, right? The last time I received a phone call from Kelly it was good news. (She was the one who called me way back in February 2015 to let me know that my original PET scan did not show any signs of cancer anywhere else in my body.) I was desperately hoping to continue the "Kelly only calls with good news" streak.

I love Kelly Fields. She helped me get through some of the worst parts of my life with honesty, optimism, and genuine kindness. 

On Friday, September 11th, 2015, nurse Kelly called to tell me that the six lymph nodes they removed and tested all came back CLEAN. That meant the cancer cells didn't pass through those nodes and didn't spread to other parts of my body. The only other time in my life when I felt relief like that was in the moments after I delivered my daughter and I heard her cry for the first time and knew she was alive and well. Monumental amount of relief. Relief the size of oceans. Seriously, that much relief. No hyperbole intended.

So here we are, one year later. It's September 11th again and guess who I saw today? I got to meet with the one and only nurse Kelly for my one-year post-surgery check up...and it was great.
Here I am in the parking lot right before my one-year, post-surgery check up. Oh what a difference a year can make.

September 11th, for all of the still very obvious reasons, is a day I'll never forget. But despite all of the sad connotations surrounding this day - - there will always be a smile on my face and extra big hugs for anyone who wants them. I can't help it. While I will absolutely take a moment (or two, or fifteen) to reflect on the loss and heartache and confusion our country experienced in 2001, I will also remember that this is the day I knew I would get on with my life. MY LIFE. LIVING, you know, definitely not dying. With the help of an extremely talented medical team and the support of my friends and family, I kicked cancer's ass.

Yes, this day means something to a whole lot of folks. But every year, in the late afternoon of September 11th, if you see me grinning like a fool, you'll know why.

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