After going through a traumatic experience, your perception of time changes.  You feel as though your very peace of mind has been stolen from you and damn it, it’s infuriating.

Some people, trying to comfort me during my dark time, said things like “we are all facing our own mortality all the time” or “any one of us  could get struck by a truck tomorrow”. Sure, those things are true but, come on. Facing cancer changes you forever. You never again feel any sense of “sureness”. Of certainty that you will be there tomorrow.

At the moment of my diagnosis, when the doctor said, “The tests have come back and you have breast cancer” I foolishly asked “Am I going to die?”

The doctor’s response was that we would do everything we could in order to prevent that from happening. In retrospect, it was a very foolish thing to ask. Would I have really wanted to know if the prognosis was that grim before I even had the opportunity to seek treatment?

I pleaded with God. I remember praying “Dear God, please make me live long enough to see Michael (three at the time) go to kindergarten”. Although I did have to miss his kindergarten orientation, I did live to see him drive off on the big yellow bus that very first day.

Then it was, “Please God, let me be there for Jack at least until he goes to kindergarten”. Jack is now in the third grade.

Later, “God, I would really appreciate it if I could see my sisters get married.”. Chrissy was married in 2006 and Lori in 2010 and I was able to stand as the maid of honor in both of their weddings.

The point is this. Even us cancer survivors don’t know when the end will come. My doctor told me that he saw some people who should have had excellent outcomes die within a year and people who should have been dead in six months, live another twenty years.

My mom was unfortunate to have been diagnosed with cancer in her twenties, again in her forties, and again in her fifties. She is a source of strength and encouragement for me. She often says “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself”.  Another of her favorites, “If you had told me fifteen years ago that I would have outlived Lady Di, I would have said you are crazy”.

My mother gets it. She is where I am striving to be. She is happy just to be alive. Her traumatic memories take a back seat to her happy ones. Oh, they are there, but, they are forced to sit in the back. No riding shot  gun for them.

So, let’s all try and take a lesson from Liz (mom’s name for those of you who don’t know). Only people who have faced their own mortality and lived to tell about it can say this with any confidence but “what is the point of surviving if you are not living and enjoying each moment?”

My grandmother always used to say “it’s in the book”. Basically, the image is God sitting with a big book in his hands.In the book everything is written, including the moment you are born and the moment you will die. It’s anybody’s guess what page your big moment is on. Until then, write yourself an awesome life story.