20 Years Cancer Free!

I’ve always been fiercely independent.
I needed no man and believed I could do everything myself. When I met my husband, I made it clear I didn’t need him; I wanted him.
I didn’t need him to take care of me. I wanted him because I loved him.

Then we got married, and things changed. I had someone else to think about and someone to help carry the load. But cancer and multiple surgeries changed me. I had to rely on others, sometimes to do even the simplest of tasks. I hated it, and now with 37 surgeries under my belt, I’m not the girl I was all those years ago. I’ve had to learn to accept help and be grateful for it.

But with that change came a shift. I started realizing how valuable we are to one another. Whether it’s your best friend comforting you, a neighbor watching your dog, Instacart or Door Dashers shopping for food. We need one another, and we need community. 

This year I am 20 years cancer-free from Triple Negative Breast Cancer. A high-grade, hard to treat, aggressive form of breast cancer that left me a bit differently-abled. You would think I would be pouring champagne and running the chocolate fountain. But I’m really struggling. My mind is all over the place, and I have written this post about twelve times.

A few weeks ago, a precious child passed away after fighting cancer for six years. He was just thirteen years old. I didn’t know him, but I love someone who loved him, and because of her, I grew to love him too. I followed his story, and I cried for his parents, I worried about his little sister, and when he died, my heart sunk. This little one suffered hugely, and yet in the middle of what must have felt like hell, he spread love and joy to everyone around him. 

So I’ve decided I’m not celebrating being cancer-free this year because this wasn’t just my cancer. I’m not going to a restaurant to celebrate because I didn’t do it alone. My family fought this battle with me. My husband cringed when I screamed as he siphoned my drains. He cleaned my wounds, made me laugh, and cried with me. My children sat with me, loved on me, fed me, and helped run the family. My doctors fought to save my life. My nurses comforted me. My community and friends sat with me, brought food, and encouraged me. 

Yes, I busted my ass to keep my moods up and take care of my body, mind, and soul in the process of what felt like hell, and with four back-to-back surgeries in four weeks, eight rounds of chemo, and losing my breasts to cancer, I was exhausted, but I needed each and every one of those helpers.

This is not just about me. It’s about the team of people that supported me when I had cancer. It’s about the tears they shed, the time they took off work to help, and the sleepless nights they spent watching over me. It’s about a husband running a household with young children and still working a full-time job. It’s about kids scared their mother might die and crying into their pillows at night thinking she didn’t hear them, trying to be brave, so Mommy wouldn’t worry.

We need these people. We need our families. We need our communities. We are all in this together. 

I want to celebrate every cancer survivor.
I want to celebrate every family member, every friend, and every member of the community.
I want to celebrate the lives of those we lost.
I want to celebrate everyone in the medical community.

Life is fragile. Not just because of cancer. We’ve lost a lot of people to Covid. The situation in Ukraine is devastating. We are not promised tomorrow. Life is not a dress rehearsal. You do not get to do this again.

I celebrate all of you.
I love you, I thank you, I am honored to know you.
You’re all are in my heart and forever in my prayers.

Cheers to 20 years. Thank you for getting me here.
Rest in Peace, Colby. You’ve earned it. We may not have met in person, but my heart knew you. Say hello to baby Faith for me. 

Amberley Charlotte 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s