Christy Powers describes what it feels like to be told she has breast cancer, and she shares her thoughts since being diagnosed.
When I look back on my life, I never thought I would be here. You grow up with this picture in your head of the things that you hope will be a part of your future. For me, those things included moving to Colorado, falling in love, possibly starting a family, and doing my part to help make the world a better place. I am now forty-three.
Presently, I have lived in Colorado for nineteen of those years and I have loved living here every single one of those days. I have fallen in love a few times but sadly it didn’t work out, and I have felt my equal share of heartbreak as well as joy from those bittersweet learned lessons. I have not yet started a family and may need to find some peace of heart that that may not happen. All along this journey, I try to spread kindness, positivity, and love for my small part of this world’s care.
Currently for my job, I spend a lot of time traveling, watching everything pass by in a quick blur through a window. Many of the times, it will evoke a wanderlust melancholy feeling of not knowing if I am traveling towards something or away from everything. To and from, two perspectives that can share the same moment of time, but are always so far from one another.
That might be an ironic way to describe my life. So many times I felt I was at the beginning of something, and then harshly realized I was at an unfortunate end. I am faced with a brutal example of that now.
“Christy, you have cancer.” Nothing can prepare you for those words. Your life changes in ways you have yet to understand in a single moment, and you have to redefine your definition of so many words you have known your whole life; words like strength, hope, and fear.
I felt nothing. I still don’t. The cancer was found in my yearly mammogram. And every doctor keeps saying, “Thank God you came in for the exam, so many don’t.” We caught it early and that gives me my best chance at winning the battle against the pink ribbon’s foe. If that isn’t the best story of breast cancer awareness I can help make you aware of, I don’t know what is.
I have always wondered why the fight’s hero is a ribbon? Maybe it’s because it is soft and strong at the same time, and that is what happens to a woman during the journey of diagnosis and treatment. I will be softened by realizing/dealing with my mortality, humanity, and survival; but also will be strong and supportive of my own needs, emotions, and peace of mind taking on each day to get through this.
So, is this diagnosis the beginning of something? Or the unfortunate end? Even typing those words is almost impossible to do as denial tries to drive my actions. Yesterday I was a supporter of Breast Cancer Research, now my life depends on it.
The “what ifs” start to flood my river of thought. What if I don’t get to do all I’ve dreamed of doing in my life? What if I never find love and get to grow old with that man and live out those dreams? What if I never get to have or help raise our kids? What if I can’t be there for my family and friends? And the biggest what if … what if I can’t beat this?
I have never felt so alone or as scared as I did when I heard the words, “You have cancer.” Knowing that you have to go through something so strong that it has taken some of the best and wounded so many of the rest is daunting and terrifying. And it humbles you to say the least. Who am I to think I can take this on and win?
Reading this, you might think this is a very dark and sad place to be and wonder, Where is the hope? But the truth is, at the beginning of the diagnosis, it is that dark and sad. Every single day is started with the single thought from the moment you wake up: I have cancer. And it’s hard enough to find the strength to get out of bed or muster up a smile, let alone hope. I begin to become painfully aware that every woman has to find the light out of her own tunnel of breast cancer despair.
Everyday simple things like a smile, laughter, kindness, and compassion showed the light to me. When you have been brought to your knees by fear, you can’t believe how beautiful those gifts can become, and a foundation I could stand on was built, to pull myself back up. Every call, text, and email from friends and family humbled me and filled me with overwhelming gratitude that my life was blessed with them in it. Seeing their strength and feeling their love, I began to have a new perspective on what I thought was once a challenge. All of my past problems, emotions, and things that once upset me meant nothing to me now compared to this challenge, the one I cannot lose.
After returning from five weeks of traveling just two days after being diagnosed, with a heavy heart I wept when I closed the door to my home. I don’t know if it was tears of fear for the unknown that was now in my present and would have to be faced soon, or the release of all that fear I had been carrying for those coast-to-coast miles. Regardless, I wept and prayed and asked God for help.
It is the losses that require us to be our bravest. And I am faced with the hard fact that I cannot beat this without a loss. A double mastectomy is in my future. I have no choice but to find my courage and learn how strong I can be.
“Grace” has always been my favorite word and now is my new hope and desired companion to beat cancer. I also realize that for the first time in my life I have to make a real leap of faith, more so than ever before. My heart, strength, and character may be tested that a part of my body is sick, but my soul wants to make this experience something I will look back on and feel amazed that I found my wisdom, courage, and faith at the time I needed it most.
I have heard once, the key to crossing any obstacle is first to believe you can and then having faith in yourself that you will. After having some time to settle into my new reality, I feel at peace understanding that idea. I feel hope for the first time in months. I take a deep breath, exercise a kind smile, and begin to believe I can beat this and, with the help of some amazing doctors and the love and support of my family and friends, I will.
Today, I want to spread the news to all those that love me and care about me, I’m okay. And I’m going to be okay. The look of alarm and worry I see in their caring eyes when they find out about my diagnosis is hard to take. I don’t want them to be upset or scared for my future. I need them to help me and support me with the faith and belief I need to have to win this battle in life.
So all I want for Christmas this year is a gift I can pass along to all of those that love me, to be cancer free soon and have that spread joy and cheer throughout their year. I hope to be able to be there for them for many Christmases to come. And I pray that some day I will get to look back on this life experience and be grateful for the gifts even the darkest of times can bring to a forty-three year young woman with many more dreams to live.
Christina Marie Powers
[Editor’s Note: Christy needs help affording the treatment she needs, her insurance is only going to go so far, please consider donating money to Christy Powers’ Breast Cancer Fundraiser through GiveForward.]
P.S. I have been comforted and inspired by a particular song that has struck a chord with me: “Where Rainbows Never Die” by The SteelDrivers. This really is the song whose lyrics hit my heart like a tidal wave of emotion every time I hear it, especially reflecting on life.