The week, this first week cancer-free, has sped by quickly.  We have packed so much into every day.  So much adventure, so much love, so much spring cleaning of our house and our souls.  I have so much to tell you … but only a little time while Daddy feeds the children lunch and I can type away guilt-free. 

The most important bit is this:  one week after getting the news that I am cancer-free, ten days (really?) after finishing radiation, three months after my double mastectomy, and four months after finishing chemo, I am getting stronger every day, and will hopefully be back to a normal schedule soon. 

If you happen to also be in treatment, let me tell you this loud and clear: IT DOES GET BETTER.  IT WILL GET BETTER.  Even though it may seem dark and dreary today, it can get better with hope, prayer, science, and a whole lot of luck.

This week alone has gone like this:

Tuesday: Playdate in the park.  Two hours.  Three hours, really, while we hung out afterwards with a friend and her children, dipping our toes into the big mud puddle while the kids swung each other around madly on the tire swing.  (Little Bear re-discovered wood chips.)  Then nap for all.  I even cooked pancakes and eggs for dinner.  I’m an awful cook, but I make most excellent pancakes.  We even took our first post-treatment walk together, after dinner.  I think we did a mile.

Wednesday: Washed the bathroom floors.  Got down on my knees and scrubbed, with Widget, during Bear’s nap.  No, it’s not glamourous, but boy, did it feel good to get done.  Afterwards, we even re-sealed it in hopes that it will stay a little nicer.  A walk to the park and back.  (Two miles.)  Lots of laundry.  Then, a dress-up party and playdate at a friend’s house with so many other friends in the sunshiny warm weather.  The preschoolers ran around in the fresh grass, playing games; Bear climed into and out of the Cozy Coupe several dozen times; and I got to meet a friend’s brand-new baby.  Boy, nothing gives off hope like a brand-new baby.

Thursday: I can’t even remember how the day began, but I’m pretty sure there was lots of playing and building, as there so often is around this house.  More laundry.  A big-kid playdate with a local homeschooling group: duckpin bowling!  Oh, that was fun.  At first, Widget wanted nothing to do with the empty bowling alley, so we looked around and then left for a quick walk.  When we came back, it was filled with friends, and he picked it up quickly.  Before I knew it, he was lifting and throwing with the best of them!  And by the best of them, I mean the best three and four year olds in the place.  Our kids are so funny, and so surprising.  Even though they often had three or four little balls going down the lane at once, and they didn’t always hit the pins, we had enough successes to make everyone happy and tired.  But that’s not all!  We wrapped up the afternoon with a stop at a rummage sale for beach toys and a great playdate at a new park with our friends.  Both Widget and Bear had a great time on the climbing structures, on the fire truck, and in the sandbox.  We took an evening walk after dinner, and when Widget got tired, I carried him partway home.

Friday: Shopping adventure to the Carter’s at the nearby outlet mall.  Oh, my favorite.  I don’t shop often, but when I do, I head up there to get it all done at once.  Four pairs of PJs for the kids each, new jeans for mama, new polos for daddy, and we’re all done for the season.  We even met Grammy and Granddad there, and had a great time shopping together, eating lunch, and catching up.  After dinner, Daddy put Bear down and Mommy and Widget practiced riding … Widget’s new two-wheeler!  Yes, of course it has training wheels, but it’s still a huge step for this three-year-old and his mama.  When we first brought it out on Thursday, I began to cry, hoping he wouldn’t see me, but in as much happiness as anything else.  My little boys are growing up.  My baby is walking (did I mention that?  He took his first real steps last Wednesday, the night before we went to the oncologist and got the good news!), and my preschooler is riding a real bike with training wheels.  He got his first bee sting last night too, and survived to tell our friends about it when they stopped by after their walk this morning. 

And that’s the real news today.  We are all surviving and growing stronger.  My friends are walking in the Avon walk next weekend, on a team called “For Our Daughters,” which is amazing, and completely blows me away, and today they brought me a special gift: an inspirational magnet and a pink Avon walk survivor hat.  The hat says this: “I stand because you walk.”

And that, my friends, sums it up nicely.  This week in particular, I have stood, and walked, and played with my children, and begun again to cook and clean, and tried to recapture some semblence of a normal life.  I am on my way back to real, complete, passionate living, pushing myself to exercise and play and get stronger, to leave that terrible place of sickness behind.

Part of me wants to run faster, longer, to never remember how it was this year, to forget it entirely and to create a new life.  But the rest of me is grateful for the time that I had to see clearly, to reflect, to record my babies’ babyhood with words and pictures, to treasure them though I almost lost them, and now, to heal, and to start the race again.

I wonder which direction I will go.


25 Responses to Strength

  1. telecommutingtruths says:

    This is a wonderfully encouraging post. You are helping so many people with the tales of your own struggle. You rock!

  2. Alice C says:

    Some days you will forget and some days you will remember – that is the way that your new life will be. The important thing is that it is all memory – it happened in the past. GO! Enjoy every moment of your new life – you have earned it.

  3. This? Was one of the Best. Posts. Ever.

    One I have been waiting for.

    The “happily ever after” has begun at last!!

    Nothing says “hope” like a newborn baby… except maybe YOU, Susan.

    Lots and lots of love to you, and HOPE for many more weeks like this, in the years to come.

    xoxo CGF and Girlies 3

  4. Sarah S. says:

    Wow you all were busy! It makes my heart so happy that you are feeling so much better and stronger everyday. Just think how much fun this summer is going to be! 🙂

  5. wonderful news, and so much of it, too.


  6. Angela C. says:

    So you’re saying the new normal’s not so bad. I can celebrate and relate to that.

  7. Stimey says:

    I’m so happy for you. You sound busy and happy and full of hope and love and energy. There’s a reason you have inspired so many. Here’s the other side, Susan. I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

  8. It fills my heart up to read this post, and to read of the joy you can take now in the “ordinary” things in your life. Such wonder. Your little one walking. All of it sounds wonderful, and special, I’m happy for you all.

  9. Ally says:

    This whole post was sweeter than candy. What a treat to read it. I’m so happy for you, Susan, and for your family. You are so strong, and active, and alive! I’m looking forward to seeing which direction life will take you next. I have no doubt it will be amazing.

  10. I love reading your blog. Thanks for taking the time away from your wonderful family to write about your experiences.

  11. NYfriend says:

    Sounds like a fun and full week! I’m so glad for you! 🙂

    So here’s a logistics question for you, how on Earth did you fit naps in on Thursday?

  12. Carla says:

    What an amazing blog! I too am an IBC survivor, 37 years old, diagnosed on my daughter’s 1st birthday in December 2006. I am one year cancer free and every day gets a little bit sweeter! Here’s to you creating many more happy memories with your little ones!

  13. Krishawn says:

    You bring tears to my eyes yet again. Your words sent such longing through me that I just woke my 16-month-old so we could cuddle a moment in the quiet of the night. Thank you. So happy for you.

  14. Kacy says:

    You are going from strength to strength – that is where I see you going

  15. deb says:

    It sounds so ordinary and so wonderful. That’s what life really is I think, small, ordinary, wonderful things. Take care Susan.

  16. Kat says:

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

    I amaze myself how I forget sometimes I had breast cancer. I hear a commercial or read the word cancer in a book for magazine and I say to myself “oh yeah, I had that one time”. It is amazing. On my sidebar of my blog I have this quote “I am a person who breast cancer was a part of my history…NOT a part of my future!”

    Life goes on. Thank you Lord!!


  17. I am all teary now, too. And all from happiness! What a wonderful week and I am so glad you’re enjoying it all to the fullest.

    Sending hugs as always!

  18. Amelie says:

    So glad to hear you’re doing so well!

  19. chaotic joy says:

    Just coming by to check on your progress and I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to read this post. It makes me want to shout to the rooftops. I am so happy to see the continuing answer to so many prayers. Healing. Strength. Life.

  20. clifford says:

    …run straight to Camden Yards for hotdogs & beer^X^X^X^X diet coke! That is an order from Dr. me.

  21. Nicole says:


    I’m so happy for you.
    Don’t hurry, don’t worry, stop and smell the flowers 🙂

  22. clifford says:

    I am going to vote one more time for baseball, S, just in case you missed it the first time and decide to do something shallow like attend an art gala or a book signing. Sweeeeet Carolineeee…da da daaaa…good times never felt so gooooood…

    Get thou 9 innings of heaven on turf at Camden to watch the “Oreos” play, as my girlfriend says.

  23. Adam says:

    I’ve got to admit I envy the opportunities for play your kids have with other kids. We just don’t seem to have that here.

  24. whymommy says:

    Adam, it is wonderful. Of course, it takes a lot of work from the moms in the area, but it sure is worthwhile.

    Clifford, baseball? That does sound like fun. We’ve been thinking about taking the boys to an afternoon minor league game soon. They may be a little too young, but I’m not!

  25. My heart rejoices for you. You offer such inspiration and I love reading where you are at. I cling to the words that it does get better because my chemo is hitting me hard already and I honestly don’t know whether I will have what it takes to finish this time. We shall see, one step at a time hey? Love to you from one battler to another. xxx

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