Tuesday, September 29, 2015

5 Years

5 years.

That is a big number. One that we all strive for. What does it mean? 5 years is great. But I want more.

It was on September 29, 2010 that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. On that day my life completely changed but I can honestly say that the last 5 years have been my best years yet. At that point 5 years ago, I felt my life was directionless and at age 27, I was struggling to find my path. In the days after my diagnosis, I made a pledge to myself. I promised that I would not let cancer take anything away from me, but that instead, I would take everything I could from cancer. I'm happy to report that I have kept this pledge.

In the 5 years since I was diagnosed...

I changed my job and lowered my stress. I am in the process of evolving my career and started grad school to get my MSW.

I have gotten involved with some incredible cancer support organizations (Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, Young Survival Coalition, Ulman Cancer Fund).

I've met countless, inspiring young survivors. I've made incredible friends who continue to inspire me and lost others long before I should have.

I learned how to run and have completed numerous 5k's and a 10k. I re-learned how to ride a bike and completed the 3 day bike ride Tour de Pink.

I married my best friend (love you Ben!) and discovered a beautiful new place (Palisade, CO) and a supportive pink family in The Wedding Pink (Thanks Cheryl).

I trained as an Integrative Patient Navigator and serve as a survivor mentor through a couple of organizations.

I have sat with and listened to many other young women and men diagnosed with cancer much too young; I've shared my experiences and tried to learn from theirs.

I have attended conferences and trainings and visited so many new places as a result (Denver, Houston, San Diego, Seattle, Nashville, Indianapolis, Chicago...).

I graduated from Project LEAD and became a trained patient advocate serving on DOD research review panels and am a member of the Georgetown Breast Cancer Advocates.

I've become a calmer and more even-keeled person.

I'm trying to be a healthier person and that is an ongoing process.

I strive to keep learning, keep growing and keep sharing.

I try to always count my blessing.

Thank you to my amazing family who has been with me through these 5 years (thanks Mom!).

This is not meant to be a laundry list of accomplishments or accolades. This list is simply the evidence to show that I've kept my pledge and that I'm still working on the greatest accomplishment yet: I'm LIVING.

Not just breathing and existing, but truly living life and enjoying it.

Here's to five years down and fifty+ to go!