Laura's Story: 12 Months to Live
At age 49, I felt tired, and I had vertigo. I felt as though I could no longer navigate stairs with heels, but this all hit me as part of the aging process. Not to be, so I soon discovered. I went home for a break, a school principal, at the start of December vacation. I was excited and exhausted, and I still had shopping to complete. I went home with visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head (or not exactly), but I felt happy-ish. I could not fathom what lay ahead. On December 27, 2020, I was making pancakes with the hope of drawing my adolescent daughters out of their rooms to join my husband and me for breakfast. Instead, I had a seizure that morning as I attempted to do what I had done thousands of times…cook pancakes. I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, confused by my unexpected seizure, but not down for the count. After a series of tests, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Stage IV, that metastasized to my brain, and I was being transferred to another hospital for emergency brain surgery. The ER doctor’s eyes were pools of brown liquid, like leaking swamp water. Was he talking about me? What about my husband and teenage daughters? Takotsubo Syndrome? Could I die from broken-hearted syndrome, or was that just a myth? Fast forward nearly three years. I am living with metastatic Breast Cancer. There is so much beauty in hearing the stories of my fellow mBC sisters and brothers. I am part of this new community, that I never would have chosen, but I am grateful exists.
I relate to the brand…I am a disaster, but my story is beautiful. It is a story of resilience, strength, courage, and darkness, depression, and deep sadness. What a balance?
I’m grateful to have lived through four surgeries, a stroke, treatments beyond most people’s worst nightmares, and such sadness. This is a family disease with no cure. I was given twelve months, and it has been 35 and counting. It is difficult to live with such uncertainty and grief, but so far, I rally against the alternative.
I am learning to accept death without giving in to it. I am also learning gratitude and hope as survival techniques. I am embracing opportunities I would not have been brave enough to grasp before my diagnosis. I no longer ask, “Why me?” Instead, I ask questions about treatment, plans for next steps (understanding the uncertainty inside the answers, and I love my family and my “people” so much harder.
I am an advocate, a mentor for the newly diagnosed, a facilitator of a support group, a wife, mom, daughter, niece, cousin, and friend.
Tie-Dye hoodie because it is cozy and sends a message I am proud to wear. You don’t have to be perfect. In fact, the quest for perfection is hollow and infinite. The destination is unknown. Alternatively, I embrace radical acceptance and hope.