As I drove to work, I was mentally preparing myself for the emotions of the day. I received the great news from the ultrasound but only Doug and I knew about that report because we wanted to wait until after the surgery. In less than 24 hours, I would endure six hours of surgery that would require three specialist. Today, I channeled my positivity to reflect on just how grateful I was for the staff at RBW. I wrote the staff a letter so that I would not need to say any goodbyes. I was not pleased to miss that last three days of school but you do not argue with doctors and I learned that my health was more important than my job.
Since the staff found out about my diagnosis when they returned to school in January of 2009, they continued to support me. The first time I wore a wig I was so self conscious and they acted like it was no big deal. When I had to wear my favorite fuzzy hat to work, they made me feel accepted. They provided meals every Thursday for at least five months and my family looked forward to Thursdays. My mom and I were just talking about that last night. It was a much needed night off for the care givers not to worry about food. Every now and then, grade levels and individuals would give me care packets, gift cards and cards of encouragement. They loved me through those difficult months and always treated me kindly.
When I got to school, I noticed one pink shirt, three pink shirts, grade levels of pink shirts and eventually realized that they all wore pink shirts on my last day. It brings me to tears 5 1/2 years later as I write this blog. I was surrounded by support and kindness every day.
After dismissal, Mrs. Ward, Principal, told me that she needed me to go with her to the Computer Lab. She was quite convincing so off we went. We did go to the Computer Lab and walked straight through to the back door of the Media Center where the entire staff had gathered and made a tunnel of pink to welcome me as I entered the room. (That was a tradition I brought to the school when I came years before. On the last day of school, the staff gathered to make a tunnel for the last bus students to walk through as they boarded the bus. The students always loved it.) Needless to say, I was so overwhelmed. As I looked around the room, there was a sea of pink. The staff was wearing pink shirts, holding pink balloons and wearing surgical masks. It was an amazing show of support.
My birthday is in July so we gathered to celebrate an early birthday featuring my favorite colors: pink and yellow. They arranged for me to have a month of birthdays so that I would have a card to open every day during my recovery from surgery. They also made a money ribbon because they knew I hadn’t been able to go to the beach during chemo and that was and still is one of my favorite places to relax.
Kindness, gratitude, compassion and joy surrounded me that day. A journey through breast cancer or any other illness changes you. You can allow it to change you for the good or you can become bitter. It’s not easy! Healing takes time. Believe me…CANCER SUCKS, but life goes on and happiness is a choice. I choose to be happy every day and I choose to SMILE!
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