As I was listening to a panel of women share their experience with breast cancer, one of them happily admitted that breast cancer was the best thing that had ever happened to her. The voice inside my head screeched, “Is she nuts?!”. Really and truly, I could never imagine those words coming out of my mouth. This experience was twelve years ago, but it’s as clear as if it were yesterday. I can still see myself as I sat in the audience; a meager scarf wrapped around my bald head; terror clutching my brain; a newbie in this world of breast cancer.
Now, all these years later, the voice inside my head may not screech with horror at her words but I’m not so sure I’d call breast cancer the best thing that ever happened to me. Because I’m much more the war-torn veteran(drama for effect) my understanding of her words has been revised. This woman’s life was filled with stress, negative relationships, and as she faced the possibility that her life could end, she made choices that empowered her. Less stress and ridding herself of poisonous friendships. Got it.
Still, I can’t say that this experience is the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m very fortunate that even though I have metastatic breast cancer, I live a full life. But come on, the word metastatic freaks me out! So, I’m going to have to stay in the “Not the Best Thing” club. What I’d like to add, forced to actually, is I have a fabulous life and as much as I don’t want to say it, breast cancer has brought me a great deal of good.
For example, my life is enriched by warm and caring people, and I’ve had many great adventures. One in which I was a hologram! Is that correct? I was a hologram, or they turned me into a hologram? Either way, thanks Abbott for the experience. My husband and I just returned from Greece; a huge thanks to the phenomenal men and women that worked on TEDx Kalamata and those that so graciously hosted us in such a beautiful country. I’ve been to Germany twice where I was in a commercial that aired for six months. Thanks, Telekom! I’ve met many, many wonderful people that want to help me fundraise to help support those with breast cancer–thank you–it’s been a dream to meet you. Around the world bloggers, magazines and newspapers have shared the story of The Tutu Project, how wonderful is that?
So, where does this leave me? Although I can’t quite wrap my head around thanking cancer, as it still sucks, I can say that I live with deep, deep gratitude for all that my life has become.
Linda Carey is the co-creator of The Tutu Project and President of the Carey Foundation. She has been living with Metastatic Breast Cancer for fifteen years and is an advocate for the breast cancer community.