There is a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with knowing that I have almost completed chemotherapy. Nothing I've ever done has been as hard as this.
I am stronger than I thought I was. And tougher.
I know that I still have one more horrible chemo and the grind of radiation (not to mention Herceptin treatments every three weeks for a year) but I just realized today that the worst really is behind me.
Breast cancer has cost me a lot, physically, mentally and emotionally. I have not stopped being angry that it happened to me (and to other women, in frightening numbers). I have, however, gained a sense of my own strength and the confidence of understanding what it means to be a 'survivor.'
I know that others have always seen me as confident but I know how often I avoided challenges or situations which made me feel scared or intimidated. I think that will happen far less often in the future.
It's not that I don't expect to feel frightened or intimidated. It's that I know I can face those fears. I've written before that I did not anticipate how much of the fight against cancer is mental. I now know that I am brave enough to face a life threatening illness and strong enough to survive treatment with my optimism and sense of humour intact. There are very few challenges that now seem insurmountable.
That is the gift my cancer has given me.