I am now one year cancer free.  I am one of the lucky ones.  I am lucky to have my health.

I am lucky to have had a relatively easy go of this cancer thing.

Mostly, truly, I am lucky to have all of you in my life.


On the morning of my reconstruction my plastic surgeon asked how I was feeling.  I told her that I was excited yet trying to be realistic about my expectations. I also told her that in truth I’d never felt more beautiful in my life. I meant that. I meant it for the simple reason that I’d never felt more loved.


I have known that I am surrounded by great people, I know that you are all great. But I had never really recognized how deeply we are all connected.  I had never experienced the power and depth of your love at one time.  It has shifted me at the core.  It is a beauty and strength that I intend to hold onto forever.  I intend to share it with others and I intend teach it to my son.


Thank you.  It is so very hard for me to put to words the gratitude that I feel. The greatness of having all of you in my life.  I am one of the lucky ones.




                                                            

                                                             the mountain


When I was newly diagnosed with cancer a beautiful friend told me something important. He told me that there would be times when I would feel all alone.  He told me this as a statement of fact not as a possibility.  Although I didn’t like it, I somehow knew he was telling me an important truth.  It gave me an odd sense of peace to know it, but I was still unprepared for what would follow.  

I wish everyone in the world had someone in their life that could pull them out of their personal darkness.  In my life this is my brother.  There are some dark days that come with cancer.  For me it was in the beginning.  The swell of overwhelm from appointments and uncertainty put me in a place that I call “the well”. The wisdom of knowing I’d feel alone wasn’t helping.  I was just falling.  So I called the person I knew who could give me strength.  I told my brother Lon  how I was feeling... that I was in a dark place and losing grip. That I literally felt like I was falling down a well.  In the simplest, typical way he said “F$%@ THE WELL AND GET ON THE MOUNTAIN”  He described the cancer journey as a climb up a mountain.  I was clearly having a very tough day on the mountain . My visibility was poor, it was cold, dark  and yes,  it felt incredibly lonely. He told me to simply push on and keep heading up the mountain because eventually I would find my way to base camp.  And guess what would be there?  All of you.  All of you would be at base camp to help me. You would be there to give me strength and love so that I might make the next leg of the journey on my own again.  He was right, you were all there.  You are always there. I just needed to hold that close and carry on. Thank you all for being at my base camp and know that I am also at yours.


For all of my fellow fighters and survivors thank you for staking the flags before me. Especially you mom, some days I would feel buried in the moment. But the sound of you laughing and loving life thirty years after your cancer was inspiring for me. It gave me hope that I might be laughing and loving life with my grandchildren someday too.  You are an inspiration, a joy and my great friend.


                                                     

                                                          the many thanks


I had a family member or friend at every appointment and surgery. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. I don’t think I would have made it through without you.


My co-workers and business partners showered me with flexibility, support and understanding. You showed me a dimension to our relationship that was nothing short of stellar. I am proud to know and work with you.


The most inspiring, mature, loving son. I was so worried about taking care of you through this. When I noticed how sweetly you were stroking my hand in the hospital, I realized that you so wanted to take care of me. God Bless your kind heart.


My friends who take care of me and my son like family, you know who are.


My personal trainer who endured a lot of boob talk and taught me to recover with strength and vision. I have never loved working out more. The world is a better place with you in it.


My wonderful girlfriends who showered me with gifts, took me to coffee, took me lunch. Who  introduced me to other patients.  Who continue to find ways for our sisterhood to deepen.


My incredible guy friends who took me out, called me, shared there simple vision of my winning. You are an awesome source of strength for me.


Everyone who prayed for me. I can’t tell you how deeply that touched me. I really can’t. I will always carry that with me.


Every inspiring and thoughtful text message or phone call.  What a joy to turn my phone on after my mastectomy, I thought the chimes would never end.


They say you can’t choose your family...but I would have picked all of you. Stellar in everyone and every way.


Everyone who let me cry on their shoulder.


My gal pals at the gym. You are great group of women and those mostly likely to see the new me!


The amazing staff of doctors and assistants who care fo me. I have complete confidence in all of you. I see God working through you. I feel immeasurably grateful to have you on my team.


Flowers!  My bedroom was glorious!  It was an awesome place to recover, I felt like a movie star. And all the other wonderful gifts...the itunes, the jewelry, my favorite perfume, the snuggly yummy blankets.  I’m still enjoying them.





                                                       one degree of separation


I think of cancer with one degree of separation. All of us have been affected closely by this disease.  We all have a family member or loved who has fought.  We all have stories of hope and triumph. And we all have a fallen angel.  Certainly no one deserves to be a member of this club and certainly no one applies.  Those of us afflicted are chosen members. At this point I just want to be a valuable member. I want to give back what you all have freely and generously given me.


Here are some ways that I am offering support to women with breast cancer:


The above photos have been donated to Kaiser Plastic Surgery. Thanks to photographer Sara Davis and makeup artist Chris McDonald for their awesome talent. We will do another installment with an “after” shot. Not every patient can have reconstruction. I wanted Kaiser to have mastectomy images that showed beauty and strength.  I love these images.


Sara and I have filmed a tutorial video for You Tube that will show women some simple yet awesome styling tricks. These tips will  help women during the long reconstruction process or for those with lumpectomy challenges. I doubt anyone can rig a boob better than a stylist!I’ve actually enjoyed the challenge. Apparently some of you other girls can use some “evening out”  and expansion tips as well:)


There are a couple other ways that I’ll volunteer wardrobe and styling assistance to patients. It is what I have to offer most uniquely. I feel it can add some much needed levity for a patient.  I want to give away the beauty I felt from all of you.  I believe that every cancer patient is beautiful, every woman is beautiful. I want them to know it.


Mostly though, I just want all of you to contact me if there is anyone in your life that I might help.  A few of us have been brought together through friends and I love those relationships.

I am always available to help another cancer patient as I was helped. I can be reached at janistaylor@chestoutchinup.com


So it is with much love and thanks that my journey continues. The mountain has been gloriously beautiful these days. 



                                                 





                                                                  I love you