Today was graduation day for me. At my 16th boob check-up, I got the news: another beautifully clear, cancer-free scan — marking 10 years cancer free. Complete remission.
My oncology surgeon — the truly brilliant, and amazingly badass Dr. Marilyn Leitch, announced, “This is your 10 YEAR anniversary. This is a big deal, and a long time coming! How are you going to celebrate?”
The truth is, I won’t. Not in a typical way with balloons and confetti anyway.
What I will do is celebrate this anniversary with intense gratitude for what the disease brought into my life, just as I celebrate every day. I am thankful for the beauty that emerged in the darkness. The disease revealed an amazing community of GEMs. AND, above all else, it brought me humility for the beauty of Life. For better or worse, I learned I am not ultimately in control of what life brings my way.
These three things are gifts that take my breath away each day.
- Gratitude. An appreciation for my health and a better perspective on life are at the forefront of the gifts I am forever grateful for. Survival brought me the ability to see my children grow into amazing teenagers. I’ve taken breathtaking trips with my husband. I’ve learned how to be a better friend, parent, human. I’m grateful for the gift of a new career path that allows us to help others by sharing a positive lifestyle — inside and out. Without my cancer journey, I would not have known the POWER of food on my physical and mental health. The disease propelled me into the GEM — the manifestation of my new view on all that nourishes me — and into this amazing community of GEM-my people.
- A GEM-my Community. Little did my soul-sister Mary Kathryn and I know, our new-found passion rooted in this journey would evolve into a community of GEM lovers. You whole-heartedly dove into this GEM-inspired life, turning it into a disco-filled movement I couldn’t even have dreamt of.
- Humility. The greatest gift I received from this journey is humility. Yes, I worked hard to get myself cancer-free, but so many others have done the same work with a far different outcome. What’s humbling and so very apparent, is that ultimately, I wasn’t in charge of what disease did or didn’t do. My remission was decided not just by medical treatments and lifestyle changes, it was also decided by something much more powerful than you or me. A Higher Power. While I did everything within my control to get healthy, ultimately, it was in the hands of something greater.
So, in “celebration” of my 10 year cancer-versary, I humbly commit to honor my beautiful friends who are no longer with us by spreading authentic goodness and healing opportunities, inside and outside the GEM each day. Sadly, there are many. For my sweet friend Kristin, for Charlotte, Chris, Chad, Brandice, Chuck, Bobby, Michael, Genia, Polly: We know your stories. We miss your life forces. Your smiles.
And to those who are still fighting. Jennifer, Jessica, Marjorie, Padgett, Andrea, Sally, and so many others…keep your eye on the prize of healing. You have amazing support teams around you — and all of us at The GEM are part of that band of warriors.
The beauty of your life is humbling — look for it. I hope you’ll share this gratitude with someone else: a friend, a family member or a stranger. You never know how much your kindness could turn the dark into the dawn.
“Even in darkness, blossoms will bloom.”