Wow, last year was a long one, wasn’t it? I think most of us will agree that it’s going down in history as one to forget. All that quarantining. All the social distancing. Like most folks, we started our hunker-down by taking up new hobbies (puzzles or bread making, anyone?) and thought all the home time would be fun and cozy. We finally remodeled our main bathroom, doing almost all of the work ourselves, putting in a walk-in shower to make it easier to bathe the dogs. Priorities. Patrick expanded his garden. I taught a couple of online classes. We were both able to work from home and continue to do so.
Of course, like everyone else experienced, the novelty of being homebound quickly faded and the reality of what was happening in our world was sobering. We were constantly grateful to avoid getting sick and avoid losing people we love like those highlighted in the news. We missed our interactions with family and friends and still do. Although we are typically homebodies, being forced apart has taken its toll. There have been some long and lonely days. I miss my kids. I was able to see them only briefly for a few days during the early summer. I likely won’t get to see them in person for many more months. I miss our families, whom we’ve really mostly seen online all year. I miss a lot of things.
I turned 50 in November. Patrick, who hates large gatherings, was actually hoping to throw a surprise party, but that didn’t happen. We celebrated the milestone like most of our days, home with the dogs, eating some good home-cooked food. Patrick has become quite the gourmet chef. I got a couple new power tools and some fantastic gifts from my friends and family. Fancy wine glasses and flowers and candy. And then the day after my birthday, I found out I have breast cancer.
Needless to say, it’s been an extra difficult ending to an already difficult year. The last six weeks has been a tornado of doctor’s appointments and an overload of information I never wanted to know. Unfortunately, my cancer is the uncommon type that is difficult to spot. That meant that the initial finding of about 1/2 inch spot showed up just larger than 2 inches on an MRI. That also changed treatment options and the timing of them. This past Monday I had surgery to remove lymph nodes and put in a chemo port. It was harder than I anticipated. The reality of this has set in and I’m now afraid in a way I wasn’t before. I worry about what’s coming and I worry I’m not strong enough.
This is why I begin this blog again. I need to refocus. I need the hope and optimism that I know is out there. 2021 isn’t going to be a lot better for us. The chemo I’ll begin next week will compromise my immune system and make it even more necessary to quarantine. Even quick shopping trips will disappear. It’s going to be tough. So what am I thankful for today? That I’m alive. That breast cancer is treatable. That so far, it looks like it hasn’t spread any further and I won’t have surgery again for months. That I have someone by my side who makes me stronger. That I have family and friends who have been amazingly supportive since they heard the news. It’s a new year and if 2020 taught us anything, there is still so much good can still be present amidst the rotten. I’ll be looking for it.