You may have noticed that Facebook does this thing where it serves up posts from past years. “Memories” is what they call these past reminders, and they are meant to show you a snapshot of what you posted on this day – perhaps of what you were thinking or eating, where you were going, or what you were seeing.
Normally, these memories wouldn’t be a problem. It’s summer (yay!), and there should be posts of mountainside dog hikes, cookouts, and road races from summers past. But here’s the thing: This time last year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had pretty invasive surgery, and was looking ahead to weeks of radiation.
I didn’t think much about how this time period would feel. Some people mark these anniversaries by lighting a candle and saying a prayer, or maybe jumping out of an airplane or getting a tattoo. I celebrated the anniversary of my Diagnosis Day in July by reclaiming the day to do something fun – spending time at the New England Air Museum including seeing my favorite bird, a Boeing B-29A Superfortress. But after marking that day, I let the current of life take me along and didn’t think much of it.
That is, until my Facebook memories started arriving in my timeline.
What is ‘normal,’ anyway?
There is something strange that happens when your life has been touched by cancer. Gradually – not suddenly as one would expect – the world looks different. It’s akin to finding your sea legs when you first climb aboard a rocking ship. At first it seems like the earth is shifting under your feet constantly, but you get used to the new rhythm and can maybe, maybe anticipate the next wave.
It’s only now, one year later after my cancer diagnosis and surgery, that I can look back and fully see the landscape of what cancer survivors like to call “the new normal” and just how much has changed in one short year. One year ago, my world turned upside-down and it has taken 365+ plus days to right itself again.
What has shaken out are everyday concerns like the dog hair on my couch and the winter road salt on my car. The worries that once took up so much space in my mind and in my heart have slowly faded into the background. These things are not important anymore; they don’t make the top of the priority list. What’s important is the people with whom I surround myself and the close relationships that sustain and support me.
What also shook out are people who take away from their environment rather than give to it. Negativity and hate have no place with me. Trolls? No thanks. Complacency and laziness? I literally don’t have the time for it. Lip service and vanity? I kick you to the curb.
One year from now, I hope my Facebook posts show me how I thoroughly enjoyed the summer of 2015, how I lived louder than ever before, and how I stopped being scared and making excuses for myself. I hope. Time will tell.
Read my continuing posts about breast cancer.