Life without Parole

I can still remember – vividly – standing in a small room with my partner, surrounded by images of my ultrasounds and mammograms.  It was almost futuristic, with computers and screens covering every part of the darkened room.  I remember looking at those screens and seeing multiple tumors and spots – I was stunned and absolutely terrified. The Radiologist said, “5 years ago, this could have been a death sentence.”  Whoa, what?!  I wanted to scream.  He went on to explain that there had been many advances in the treatment of breast cancer recently and I had a good shot at being ok. Well, after hearing “death sentence”, pretty much everything else he said went in one ear and out the other at warp speed. Thankfully, a year later, my treatment was successful and I was granted a pardon.  My death sentence was commuted to Life, albeit, Life without Parole.  I say that because I will always be somewhat of a prisoner.  I’m still within that crucial 5 year timeframe when the chances of a recurrence are greatest, and, I won’t lie, I think about it every day.  Even though I try to keep a positive attitude and not let the fear rule me, I will be fearful of a recurrence for the rest of my life.  But, I’ve learned that a little fear can actually be a good thing.  It can be a motivator.  Whenever I start to get complacent about exercising, eating healthy, or just taking good care of myself, I think of that day in the dark room and my fear whispers to me, “never forget.”  My fear gets me to the gym and it gets me to take my meds.  It gets me to my follow up appointments and to eat things like maca root and chia seeds.  I’m trying to make fear my new friend.  So, although I may never fully escape my sentence of Life without Parole, I’ve decided to accept that and really focus on the Life part. Because, that’s what we all should really be afraid of – missing out on making the most of Life and the second chances we are given. That, my friends, would be the real death sentence.

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