Living Beyond

Originally, I planned to spend this weekend at a conference called Living Beyond Breast Cancer.  The conference was packed full of sessions about facing your fears of recurrence, enlisting complementary therapies while on chemo or recovering from its aftereffects, and the latest treatment options, with plenty of time to network and meet other cancer survivors between sessions.  The conference was to help us literally learn to live beyond breast cancer, by facing it, talking about it, finding tools, and moving on.

Moving on is hard to do.  As I’ve said many times in this space, life is fundamentally changed after a breast cancer diagnosis.  The hugs are sweeter, but the worries are more intense, and, often, we feel that every single day is so precious that not a moment must be wasted.

That’s a lot to carry around.

In addition, you guys may know that I’ve had quite a week since my bad ER trip, including a close friend’s cancer scare that landed me right back in the exam room where I was first told “You have cancer.”  I’ve also been struggling with a very difficult situation with another cancer awareness group that I work with, and getting over my disappointment at not being able to travel to Atlanta to film a video that the American Cancer Society requested for their annual meeting (lymphedema strikes again!).  So, not so much a good week in the Living Beyond department over here at WhyMommy’s.

But then, I got the news. Stella posted an incredible post on Friday about the new statistics for women with inflammatory breast cancer.  Go on, read the link.  It’s awesome, and inspiring, and HAPPY!  After I got the news, I felt lighter.  Literally, lighter.  And hopeful.  Hopeful that my fate is NOT that which I first was presented with, only a 40% chance of living 5 years, and no data beyond that.  Because, as it turns out, over 50% of those diagnosed 5 years ago are still alive.  Better yet, 1/3 of the people that were diagnosed 20 years ago are still alive.   This is an INCREDIBLE improvement, as over on the IBC email list in 2007, we were hard-pressed to find ANYONE who had made it to 20 years.

And, although I rarely admitted it, I had internalized that.  I had accepted that I wouldn’t be here for long, and made decisions accordingly.  I had Made. The. Most. of every day, squeezing extra hugs, extra kindness, an extra step into each day, because I knew that I only got one chance.

But now, it looks like I might just get more than one chance.  I might get the chance to see my boys grow All. The. Way. Up.  I might get to finish my book, to write another one, to build my business, to move beyond the current issues that I’m working on … and to move Beyond Breast Cancer.

Buoyed by this realization, I chucked the conference and decided to simply follow my heart yesterday.  I made breakfast for the kids, worked for a couple of hours, picked up baskets at Ikea, went to a beagle rescue event and talked with them about becoming a beagle foster mom again, and spent a good part of the morning doing nothing but relaxing with friends.  We had such a good morning.  Imagine, a roomful of (free) e.l.f. makeup and goodies from Giant, with the company of the perfect hostess TechSavvyMama, the bubbly TeachMama, warm SmilingMama (yes, we’re all Mamas … how could you tell?),  always-classy PunditMom, incredible Stimey, passionate ParentopiaDevra, gorgeous BabyBuncher, stunning JusticeFergie (seriously, who looks this good without makeup?), and a very-pregnant ThienKim, who managed to NOT go into labor despite the odds.

For a few hours, there and with the beagles, I was just me.  Susan. Mom. Person.  Not cancer survivor or anything else.  And it was pretty awesome.

This week, I pledge to continue Living Beyond.  I may even waste some time here and there.  Because after all, I have a lot more of it left than I thought.

e.l.f. party

WhyMommy and TeachMama, in a rare moment of girlish glee at a party hosted by the incredible TechSavvyMama.

23 Responses to Living Beyond

  1. slouchy says:

    Hope is a beautiful thing. Statistics offering hope are beautiful things.

  2. Heather says:

    so thankful that hope is expanding for you and that you made yesterday just an ordinary day full of love and laughter. and beagles!! 🙂

  3. Stimey says:

    This post made me feel lighter too. It just really did.

  4. Jenster says:

    I just love happy posts like this one. Really a lot!!

  5. alice c says:

    A long, long time ago I wished you the sort of day where your biggest decision was whether or not to wash your hair. What I meant was that you could believe that there was enough time to relax and waste just a little. Today, for the first time since I started reading your blog, I can see that you believe that is possible. I am so glad for you.

  6. Cheers to you Living Beyond! I’m so glad you came and had such a good time. I loved hugging you IRL given how your week went. Looking forward to seeing you again soon!

  7. Aunt Becky says:

    Your post today made me smile. Thank you.

  8. *m* says:

    Fabulous news. Love Stella’s stats! And with all the efforts being made to combat this and other cancers each day, those numbers will only get better. Cheers!

  9. Awesome! I guess one way to Live Beyond is to simply live. So great to chat with you on Saturday! 🙂

  10. Kristen says:

    Trying not to cry happy tears!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. How wonderful. What a gift a “wasted” day can be! And of course, not wasted at all, but enjoyed without shadow or fear. Hooray! May there be many more.

  12. Seriously, it was a sparkling-sweet-juice-drinking, lots-of-girls-giggling, friends-hugging, flowers-blooming, crystal-glasses-clinking, sweet-eating, glittery-eye-shadow-wearing, all-around-fun-being-had kind of morning. So, so worth appreciating!

  13. Stella says:

    Your post has me all happy-teary-eyed and I’m the one who posted the stats in the first place. 😉 We could learn something from each other, I think. I don’t do such a good job of living every day to the fullest because I refuse to believe I won’t die an old woman with grandkids all around me!

  14. Susan,

    It was FABULOUS seeing you on Saturday at the BREW event. You were absolutely glowing – and we all just loved seeing you so happy. Thanks for sharing your day of relaxation day with us. We’ve missed you!


  15. What a great pledge. And it was awesome seeing you yesterday. So glad you chucked the conference 🙂


  16. Amy@UWM says:

    Yey! Sounds like so much fun! I did home manicures with my daughters this morning so I had a girly weekend too. We’re so happy you can now participate virtually in our Annual Meeting!

  17. Amelie says:

    That sounds great, Susan!
    Thanks for cheering me up on a day with otherwise bad news (not mine, not cancer, but bad nevertheless).

  18. aklaura says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!! As a person who also danced with cancer, I find myself wrestling with the “what ifs” and the emotional aftermath of cancer treatments – from swinging from being so grateful to feeling so fearful with moments of just being me. Your post made my heart feel lighter. Thank you.

  19. marty says:

    Oh my gawd, your nails are painted.

    Stella’s post made me very happy, as does this one. Except for the part where you didn’t bring home a beagle puppy for me to come and love on 😉

  20. Great entry! You can check out our photos from Saturday’s conference by going here:

    And we hope you’ll provide a link to our blog as well 🙂

    Thanks for your support!

  21. NYfriend says:

    Yea! I’m so happy for you! 🙂 🙂

  22. Gunfighter says:

    Mazel Tov!…. and isn’t that Devra in the background?

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