Monday, June 23, 2014

The end of June

Late June is a hard time of year for me.  It wasn't always, certainly not at all until 2012. 

Late June should be the most fantastic and anticipated time of the year.....the afternoons stretch out like a cat just waking from a nap.  Evening hangs around like the friend who just can't seem to say goodnight. 

The warmth in the sun holds the promise of lazy days by the pool, sleeping in, drinking coffee in your PJs and not having to be anywhere for anything. 

And yet....

I didn't recognize it at first, certainly not last year.  But I'm a little edgier, a little more touchy, slightly withdrawn and a tad on the melancholy side right about now.  It hit me, today, on the drive down to the O.C. (that's Oregon City for us Portlanders) to pick up my daughter from basketball camp.

And when it hit, it socked me hard, in the gut, like my brother used to do when I wasn't looking.  The tears came, and they wouldn't stop.  It all came back again. 

June 24, 2012 (that's two years ago tomorrow): I found the lump in my right breast that turned out to be the one thing I never thought I'd have: cancer.  Mind you, I don't keep that day in my brain.  I remember July 12, that's the anniversary of my mastectomy.

No, I don't consciously hold on to that June 24 date, but apparently deep inside my heart I've been keeping track.  I lost my shit today when I realized how close I am to that night, two years ago, when I was laying in bed talking to my husband and scratched under my breast and found it. 

Yes, it's true, I have a sweet new rack and the wavy hair I always wanted (thank you menopause), but the price I paid to get here was steep.  I am thriving, make no mistake.  I'm just an emotional wreck sometimes, and I probably always will be.

Today I was out on a training run, it's taper week for me, in the heat and humidity and I had an epiphany of sorts.  I tend to do my best thinking with a little Jason Aldean blaring in my ears, crunching gravel under my feet and the sun, high in the sky as I fly along the path between the guardians, the trees that line the Hollister Trail across from Nike WHQ.

I made the decision, months ago, that after Pacific Crest Olympic Triathlon this coming Sunday, that I would take some time off from training.  A long time.  Will I still run?  Absolutely.  Will I race?  Definitely.  Will I be a slave to a training plan and miss out on any more precious moments with my family?  No.  Not for a long, long while.

Today I realized that two years ago I was training for my first sprint triathlon when I found the lump.  I was eating not enough and training far too much, and I lost just enough weight that the tumor was actually visible in the mirror.  I just never noticed.

So to me, it's so fitting, and ironic, that two years to the day that I made the decision to pull out the big guns and fight fire with an atomb bomb by undergoing a painful mastectomy and breast reconstruction (really, I didn't do it for the new boobs, I swear) I'll be completing an event that, while tough, can never hold a candle to what I endured two years ago. 

And it's the event that was the catalyst for me finding the cancer in the first place.

So here I am, coming full circle.  I'll be taking on yet another big challenge, one that I'm probably not prepared for (again!), but I know that my family will be there with me, cheering me on, just like the last time. 

I can't tell you what that means to me.

June is always going to be hard.  I'll probably always withdraw, cry a little bit, and be on edge for a few weeks.  But I always come back around.  I always survive.  Just like I did two years ago.