1 Year Ago Today - May 25, 2011

It's been one year. One year gone so quickly and so much has changed. One year gone, and Mike and I just plain forgot! Until now anyhow, after our day at work, after our workouts, after dinner -- it just suddenly dawned on me that oh yeah - today's my 1 year mark.

So, I'm feeling good and am cancer free. I'm down to 6 month and 1 year follow up appointments with my doctors. I've got 4 more years of monitoring until I'm fully in the clear. I can go back to my regular health appointments - which were put aside when my Onc took over. Did I mention my hair is coming in curly?

The curly hair is kind of expected, but unexpected all at the same time. I mean, I knew that it was possible - because of the damage the chemo does to the hair follicle - but it's another thing when it actually happens. It's fun. I mean, my hair was extremely straight before chemo, and now it's like I'm a totally different person. The curls may last, or they might just go away -- I'm good with either. I'm just thankful it came back, and it came back well thus far.

But what I think is most unexpected is how much my perspective on life has been seriously altered. I think I knew I would feel different once this was all over, but I don't think I really knew to what degree I would feel different. I feel very different. Not only do I feel like I am different on the outside, with the implants and curly hair, not to mention the length of the hair, and the extra pounds that don't seem to want to come off -- but I feel tremendously different inside.

I don't want to wait. I've lost some of my passive nature. I don't want to miss out on anything. I speak up more now - you're more likely to hear what's on my mind now, than ever before. It's a different type of confidence. It's a confidence that's driven by a heightened sense of appreciation for living. I have a drive to maximize everything - I feel like I was given (earned?) a second chance, a second life - and as cliche as it sounds, I don't want to waste any of these new minutes. Everything that I wanted to do before I went through treatment, everything I felt like I had time to do ... I want to do even more now, sooner. I feel like I actually don't have that much time any more. That "we" don't, as people. I want to do everything that I've ever wanted to do, and I want to pursue all those goals that I've set for myself -- all with a new sense of urgency.

And on the same token, things that were so "important" before, aren't really such a big deal now. The small things are really small things that don't get a second thought anymore. I mean I care - I still care a lot about everything - but if it's not truly meaningful or important, I don't get hung up on it. There's not enough time to.

I've been given a new appreciation for life. I can truly say I LOVE life. I love living. It's an amazing and intriguing thing. You really just float through it, connecting and disconnecting as time passes. Meeting new people, finding old friends .... changing over and over again as you're impacted by these relationships. Making memories, laughing at memories, crying at memories - it all goes so quickly. So if there's one thing that I've learned from this last year of experiences, it's that you shouldn't wait. You never know when it's your time or whether or not you're going to get a second chance. And if you happen to do get a second chance, then go for it. All of it.


  1. Kristen O'BrienMay 26, 2011 at 7:55 AM

    That is so amazing Melissa! I have read through your journey since the beginning and watched you fall and get right back up! If only we all could appreciate life as you do. I know after watching my grandma and 2 young women go through this that it is important to live and enjoy each day the best you can as we dont know what tomorrow brings! You are a strong, beautiful person and this is the beginning of a new life for you. I hope and pray for clean results for the next 4 years for you!!!

  2. You (well the back of you) look great!!! I can't believe how curly it is, oh wow.

    I'm so glad you're still posting I love your updates.

    So is the one year the year mark since surgery? Or since diagnosis? How do these things get measured? I often wondered...

    I hear you about feeling different. I'm not where you are yet, and already feel forever changed.

  3. Melissa,

    Although I have not followed every post through this last year, I have been blessed to (only distantly) experience this journey with you. Your courage, grace, and joie de vivre are inspiring.

    I'm sure I'm not alone having experienced the dreaded "what ifs" about cancer: What if this happened to me? "What if this was my husband?" So I hesitate to admit a certain fascination for those fighter men and women that brave the chemo and hair loss and, more importantly, the fear of death by cancer. You truly are my hero of heroes. And I'm so glad your life has come to a point where you've "forgot" about the cancer.

    Your curls are lovely. I bet they stay (until you grow it long, that is). But yours are so much softer and smoother than mine, so you have NOthing to worry about!

    Wear your happiness like a badge of honor. You've earned it!


  4. Kristen - Thank you so much! You're an amazing woman and I'm glad we can stay connected past Aurora =)

    Michelle - I hope you're doing well yourself!! I know you're almost through your chemo and I read your last post (which I'll comment on here in a minute) We're counting from the day I was diagnosed, since that was the day everything changed.

    Halie - Thank you so much for your support! I kind of do hope the curls stay, for a little while anyway. =) I think being able to forget about it is a testament to how normal things have become, treatment included. I have earned it, and I will certainly wear it proudly. I wear it for everyone - you, my family, my friends and all the other young women out there.

    Love to you all!!!

  5. Melissa I added your address (I had 2 for you, so I just randomly picked the gmail one to add)

    So, when the time comes and you need to sign in, please do so with the gmail one :)



  6. Just came back to look at your wonderful curls again. Sigh. You look beautiful...

    You were my first inspiration through all this, and I still 'look up to you' in so many ways.

    Can't wait to have pictures up on my blog with HAIR again, lol.

    In the meantime, I'm stuck in 'chemobrain' land. Yuck...did you ever get that? I just finished blogging about a few episodes...I swear i feel like I'm walking in a fog, lol.


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