Seven years ago today we heard five small words that changed the course of our life forever. I sat in the barber chair with a bouncing blonde two year old on my lap getting his curls trimmed, 7 months pregnant and thinking about cabinet finishes for the home renovation project we were in the middle of. I was full of joy on a sunny November morning. My phone rang and the doctor said, “Lara, you have breast cancer.”
Bennett doesn’t know me before cancer and really Wills doesn’t either (he was the two year old). But, I am so happy to know that the years following my first breast cancer diagnosis I was an even better version of myself. I reflect on the those 6 years with such a big smile on my face. Cancer changed my life story dramatically, but we made the very best of the scary new chapter. I gradually healed from my surgeries and chemotherapy. We got our life back on track and I was a more confident, strong, exuberant version of myself. Our family was tested and so much stronger for having faced such a scary time together. Cancer has always been a part of our life as a family, but it hasn’t been our way of life.
Since cancer I have ran marathons and triathlons, climbed mountains and repelled down waterfalls. I kayaked into deep dark caves and slept under the stars. I have taught the boys to ride two wheelers, tie their shoes and express their feelings with words instead of fists (use your words, use your words…) We’ve snuggled tighter and laughed louder.
But, this year as I “celebrate” my cancerversary it is tainted with a new date. The date the cancer came back. The second phone call, January 9 2014. This time so much more devastating because after six years in the cancer world we know so much about cancer. This time the conversations were not nearly as reassuring, the plan not as clear…
The strong, better version of myself was broken and lost. But, as I look back on the fact that I have been facing cancer for my children’s entire life and I think about how they still have me. Half of the time Jay and I have been married he has been my caregiver as well as my husband. But I am still their wife and mommy despite fears and sadness and pain. I know I am determined to continue to be able to say this. Even in the face of this new diagnosis. My story isn’t complete. This new chapter was not expected or easily navigated. But, each day or week I look back at the things we did together as a family, the laughter and adventures we have together reassures me that we have more living to do together. Lots more!
I am so very lucky that for now my cancer is responding to treatments. My body is regaining its strength, my laugher is getting louder again. We are writing this new chapter each day and defining what this new, new normal is for Team Mac. The past seven years have been filled with much more happiness than sorrow, laughter than tears and hugs instead of tugs. Seven amazing years I am so incredibly thankful for.
I have cancer. Cancer doesn’t have me.