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Fourth of July -- It's Not What you Think!


Everyone associates Fourth of July with fireworks, picnics, and a long weekend. But that all changed three years ago. Now, it's a day I want to forget. I should have known better, but I had no choice in picking the date for my surgery. This picture was taken three years ago on July 2, 2018 in Cuenca, Ecuador -- two days before my bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer. I found out on a Wednesday and and was in surgery a week later -- July 4, 2018. It wasn't my first rodeo with this horrible disease. Twenty-two years earlier, I battled breast cancer and thought that was the end of my journey. I wrote a story about it in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom titled "This Too Shall Pass." And that's exactly what I thought, It will pass. During those 22 years, I got to see our boys grow into young men, graduate from high school and college, get married, dance at their weddings, and rock their babies to sleep. I'm now Mimi to Clara, Ellis, Addie and Cooper. So, you can imagine my shock when I was faced with a new primary (not a recurrence) in the same breast. It happens, but it's very rare. I wasn't taking any chances this time, so I had a bilateral mastectomy in Cuenca, Ecuador; four months of chemotherapy, and I now take a little pill every day that keeps estrogen at bay (the fuel for my type of cancer). Not fun. I figure if you have to have cancer twice, you might as well have surgery on a day that's a celebration of sorts -- complete with fireworks, sparklers and even a parade! Oddly enough, my older son just turned forty on June 30th of this year -- the exact same age when I was first diagnosed. If anyone can turn lemons into lemonade, it's me (I actually wrote that story for Chicken Soup as well). And it's given me the opportunity to write, speak and encourage other cancer survivors on their journey to recovery. Every day can be a new beginning and hopefully Fourth of July will once again be a day of celebrating our independence and freedom. But for now, it's a reminder of something I'd like to forget. I'll get there; it just takes time.


Passionately yours,