5th Cancerversary. Yup. FBC.

The Silver Pen | Cancerversary

The Silver Pen | CancerversaryHeigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it’s back to blogging I go…

How’s that for an entré? Good? No? Well, I’m not sure where to begin after disappearing for the past few months.

How have you been? Have a good summer? I have missed you all. A LOT.

To tell you the truth, it has taken a boatload of courage, determination, perseverance and focus to sit down and write, but here I am – obviously – writing.

Golly, I have a ton to say. However, I became a bit insecure a few weeks ago when I was readying (prodding may be a better word!) myself to come back. Okay, to tell you the honest to goodness truth, I worked myself into a full-on tizzy. “Who on G-d’s green earth really gives a s**t about what you have to say?” I asked myself – day in and day out. You know what happened? These thoughts reinforced my emotions which resulted a writing paralysis. Nice, right?

Anyway, today a strong, not-taking-no-for-an-answer voice in my head said, “Sit your a** down and WRITE. It is TIME.” So – despite my fits and starts and my best efforts at procrastination – this is how I arrived here. Today. On this FIVE year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis.

Yes, you read that correctly: five years ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, a/k/a FBC (f-bomb breast cancer).  Five years. Breast Cancer. WTF?

For each of the preceding years, I have done something incredibly physical as a FU to FBC. You see, on October 15th, 2010, cancer took my health from me, so on this date each and every year, I decided to change my dread of this “diagnosis date” by doing the opposite of sick and instead engaging my physical, emotional and intellectual strength. So,

  • On my 1st Cancerversary, I ran a 1/2 Marathon.
  • On my 2nd Cancerversary, I hiked with girlfriends 5+ hours to the top of Inspiration Point in Santa Barbara.
  • On my 3rd Cancerversary, I did the same hike with the same girlfriends.
  • On my 4th Cancerversary, I was recovering from a total hysterectomy. (If you want to learn more, please click to read about it.  I don’t feel like rehashing it at the moment.)

On this malignancy milestone date – in addition to going on a rockin’ challenging hike combined with an I’m-glad-when-it’s-done weight workout – I decided to sit down with a cup of matcha green tea (yes, I still drink it everyday!) and reflect on the incredibly powerful and utterly life-changing lessons that came from my experience. My top three are as follows:

  • Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. This is by far the most important lesson that I have learned. I remind myself, my family, my friends – anyone who will listen, really – of this lesson on a daily basis. Recently, I was brought to my knees by something quite unexpected. Instead of going to that place of “I’m fine” and “I can handle this,” I reached out to an old friend and asked for help. Even though I was a teensy bit (ok A LOT) nervous, good gracious did it ever feel good and now I find myself on yet another path of healing and self-discovery.
  • Look for the Silver Lining.  Many of you have heard me say this over and over and over (and over) again. Well, the only reason that I blabber on about it is because this philosophy is how I actually live my life. Literally. And the reason that I live my life this way is because it works. Everyday. Whether I’m sitting in traffic or dealing with any other of life’s curve balls (that often have a tendency to hit me like a wrecking ball directly in the nose), what I know for sure is that Pain is Pain. We are all going to have s**t in life. It is inevitable. It is reality. But – now, here is the good part! – what I know from the bottom of my toes to the top of my head is that silver linings provide the balance, perspective and hope to get me/you/us through anything – and I do mean ANYTHING – that life sends our way!
  • FBC is not my identity. Instead of moving from treatment into recovery and into life after cancer, I went right into writing a book about cancer. And then editing the book about cancer. And then designing the book about cancer. And then selling the book about cancer. And then promoting the book about cancer. Oh and then I had to go and write another book about cancer. And promote that book about cancer. For the past 4 years, I have been caged in on the breast cancer gerbil wheel and – until this summer – did not know how to get off! Every time I thought about distancing myself from cancer, I felt guilty.  “Well, I need to go to this event,” I thought. “It is important to speak at this event,” I was told.  Well, you know what I realized?  My guilt was a figment of my imagination.  FBC is not who I am. It does not define me. It has been a big part of my life experience, one that has brought many silver linings into my life, BUT FBC has also already taken too much time, energy, emotion, and body parts (!!!) from me and my family and my friends. It doesn’t get any more. Period.

There is an assumption that “after 5 years, you are cured.” This is not the case, unfortunately. “Five years is quite an arbitrary number,” says Julia Rowland, the director of NCI’s Office of Cancer Survivorship. “For some cancers, if you haven’t had a recurrence in two years, your rate of recurrence drops considerably. For others, like breast cancer, you can have a recurrence at any time.” Yup. Big fat bummer.

But the silver lining is that at this point in my life, I am not one to become mired in numbers or statistics or prognostication. First of all, it is mind numbing. Secondly, focusing on numbers doesn’t do a damn thing. Thirdly, I just don’t have time. N.O.W. is time to focus on living and finding joy in life.

So, from this point on, I am committing to myself (and you, dear readers!) that October 15th is now my second birthday. Does that mean that I can have a piece of cake?  Ummmmm, YES!

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Comments

  1. Mary Karkoulas says

    Mary Karkoulas says
    October 17, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Oh Dear Dear Hollye

    Welcome back it’s wonderful to have you back
    Sometimes hibernating is what we all need.

    You helped me through my journey more than you can imagine I use to look so forward to your words of inspiration daily .

    Your words felt like they were written with joy in your heart, they were uplifting,positive and you were just there for me and so many more of us.

    My darling nephew is having chemo at the moment we are all staying strong as is he and back I went read something you had written your words of wisdom and able to pass on to him.

    It must be hard to keep on blogging but we love it and I loved Fridays fixin recipes

    You are our Silver Lining!!!!

    If ever in Sydney Australia would love to meet you.

    Mary
    Coogee
    Australia

    Reply

  2. Ivy Palmer says

    So glad your back to writing, you are such an inspiration to us still struggling withFBC. I can’t thank you enough for taking such valuable time out of your life to really encourage this FBC nation. God Bless you Holley and thank you from the bottom of my heart💖
    Ivy Palmer
    Telford, TN

  3. Michele Morgan says

    You are such an inspiration! My eight year cancerversary was October 10th! I began celebrating my second birthday on that date at my one year cancerversary! I am happy to see you back!

  4. Irene says

    Hollye, welcome back!!! I so missed your blog posts but I am glad that you took a well needed rest. It is so important to recharge your batteries.

    I too have recently celebrated my 2nd cancerversary… and I LOVE your spin on it. I am seriously thinking of adopting your idea. What a refreshing way to kick FBC’s butt. Thank you for always posting such inspirational and encouraging stories. And Hollye, I can assure you, many of your readers “give a s**t about what you have to say.” You are a silver lining in many of our lives. Thank for sharing your knowledge, triumphs and sets backs with us.

    May you receive many,many blessings for the great work you do.

  5. Emily says

    Congrats!!! I’ve missed your posts! Welcome back & thanks for all you do! I’m a 2 1/2 year survivor and have dealt a lot with distancing myself and making my BC experience less of my identity!

  6. Audra Stephens says

    Does it still scare the mess out of you when you go for those Oncology visits once or twice a year and between the time they take your blood and the Dr comes to tell you the results is a lifetime? I unfortunately found my reason for making it thru this ordeal with a girl that was diagnosed at work. She knew I had breast cancer and she had just got the news so she called me and I went directly to the Dr’s office to be with her and help her understand the whirl wind that was happening and going to happen. I figured one person could be helped thru what I went thru and it would have been worth it. For everything in life it is for a Reason or for everything in life there is a “Silver Lining”

  7. Marcia Ryan says

    Thank you! I hope you know that you are truly an inspiration to me and so many others! Yours was the first book I read 😄 had my last chemo yesterday!!!

  8. Stephanie Lee says

    So happy, you have returned, I was worried. Three weeks ago, my partner was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease; I printed your “top three” to remind us to be joyful every day. Thank you

  9. Kate Ranshaw says

    Yes, it’s a great day to have another anniversary of our FBC diagnosis. Congrats! (I am 6 1/2 year survivor). You have done great things in those 5 years for all of us survivors. I LOVE your book and keeping up with all your posts. Yes, have a piece of cake!

  10. says

    Brava, dear, fabulous girl. Welcome back. When you want to. We’re okay when you don’t. But for the record, there are many of us who care about what you have to say and always have. Love, Frances

  11. Anne Towbes says

    So happy that you are Baaack! We love that you are living your life out loud and sharing it so honestly You have so much to teach us all love you, my courageous friend.. Anne

  12. Ellen Hubbard says

    Always so happy to hear what you have to say, Hollye!! Congratulations, and please keep it coming if and when you feel so inclined!!!
    Ellen

  13. Whitney Lasky says

    You are not a coward or a fool. Recharging your batteries is a necessary and Nobel effort. One that is admired and appreciated. Love you with all my heart. Whit

  14. Marci says

    I love reading your blog. I was just diagnosed on May 27th of this year. I needed a double mastectomy and have had 2 surgeries since then. I have my first post-mastectomy oncologist appointment tomorrow. Reading your blog always helps!

  15. Mary Karkoulas says

    Oh Dear Dear Hollye

    Welcome back it’s wonderful to have you back
    Sometimes hibernating is what we all need.

    You helped me through my journey more than you can imagine I use to look so forward to your words of inspiration daily .

    Your words felt like they were written with joy in your heart, they were uplifting,positive and you were just there for me and so many more of us.

    My darling nephew is having chemo at the moment we are all staying strong as is he and back I went read something you had written your words of wisdom and able to pass on to him.

    It must be hard to keep on blogging but we love it and I loved Fridays fixin recipes

    You are our Silver Lining!!!!

    If ever in Sydney Australia would love to meet you.

    Mary
    Coogee
    Australia

  16. Louis Almaraz says

    I am so happy to start reading your blog again, Hollye, you know how much I admire you.
    Hugs and Kisses, Louis of Montecito

  17. Joanie Aldrich says

    Hollye dear,

    So so happy to hear you are back and full of joy. I just yesterday was at a
    luncheon and the speaker was Dr. Kathleen Hall speaking about her new book
    Uncommon H.O.P.E. She is the founder and CEO of the Stress Institute, The
    Mindful Living Institute, and Alter Your Life. She reminded me of you; so full
    Of hope, Positive Energy, Optimism, Perserverance and Joy. xxxooo
    We have finally moved into our new home in Pebble Beach and like you busy
    Busy busy with all that entails. So happy for you, and cannot wait to hear about
    Your new home. Nesting is so much fun !!!
    Hearts love,
    Joanie