I am surrounded by wonderful women, who remind me lest I ever forget, what it means to really seize the day. Today, I bring you the words of my writer buddy, Lisa Love Harris – a cowboy boot wearing novelist, wife, baseball/orchestra mom, strong Texas breast cancer surviving woman. Enjoy and by all means, Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele
In honor of Breast Cancer awareness month, a tiny raisin-sized tumor brings me to be Michele’s guest columnist today. You see, I went for a routine mammogram on the verge of turning 40 almost nine years ago, and this tiny thing changed everything I thought I knew about myself. Thanks to early detection, I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. I’ve had four rounds of chemo and eight surgeries and am presently cancer free.
So today I’m here to strongly suggest if you’re female and over 40 or have a family history, please do get mammograms.
I’m also here to tell you how my diagnosis led me to an incredible journey I never expected. I was blessed with the realization that life is really short and I'd better get to all those goals I'd been putting off, like writing a novel. My novel, First Monday Murder, and, my protagonist, Jimmie Rae Murphy, were conceived as I recuperated from reconstructive surgery. At first, Jimmie Ray was shy, and yeah, plenty boring. I began to write and edit and rewrite. Before I knew it, Jimmie Rae emerged as a strong, independent Texas woman who wasn't going to take garbage from anyone. In the process of creating First Monday Murder, I discovered my own seventh generation Texas roots run deep, and that maybe, I had more of Jimmie Rae in me than I thought.
So much of my life after cancer revolved around our lives in McKinney. I found out how the love and support of my McKinney family could fill three huge bags with hats and scarves for me to use then to pass on to others. I discovered the sweetness of baseball games, recitals and orchestra concerts with our children. I discovered the awesomeness of wearing a great pair of cowboy boots and two-stepping with the love of my life.
After my husband’s new job forced us to leave McKinney for Seattle, WA, I still find there is so much more to experience. It hasn’t always been easy to leave the comfort of our lives in McKinney, but I remember the twists my life has taken so far and embrace the new road. Listening to others’ stories or sharing a laugh with a stranger has helped me make new friends and try new business ventures I would have never thought possible before my cancer diagnosis.
If it hadn't been for this raisin-sized tumor so many years ago, I might never have had the courage to try anything daring or new. Having a cancer diagnosis somehow gave me permission and the brutal push I needed to grow as a person. I'll never forget not what cancer took from me, but what it gave me. I am blessed and thankful.
What I’ve learned since my breast cancer diagnosis is the essence of this column . . . seize the day, my friends, seize the day! Thank you for this invitation to post. Peace, love, and all the good stuff, y’all, Lisa.