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April 28, 2006 – April 28, 2023
17-year Survivor
I needed to write it out to celebrate what it means.
From the “deer in the headlights” fear of April 28, 2006, to where I am 17 years later.

April 28, 2023, I was a mother of 2 young children, a wife, an interior designer who received the life changing diagnosis while at work. In the past 17 years, I have re-engaged in fine arts, started a blog, became a published artist, got a divorce after 28 years of marriage, started a new career in Property management, earned my CA real estate salesperson license, started country line dancing, started noticing hearts in nature, my kids are now both adults and I am now a Grandmother.

The first 5 years after my diagnosis, I was fully immersed in raising my kids and building an art practice. After my divorce, I had to return to the workforce, but the design industry had still not fully recovered from the 2008/09 downturn in the economy. I started a new career in property management to support myself and my children. I worked long hours to build a new career and my art practice took a back seat.
Sometimes “cancer” seems so fresh in my mind, yet other times it seems so distant. It changes your life forever, but I am so thankful to be here 17 years later as I know many others have not been as fortunate. I always wanted to “make it” until both my kids turned 18…to be able to watch my Granddaughter be born and to watch her grow is truly a bonus.

I had my 6-month appointment with my oncologist yesterday, my blood work and physical exam came back in good health. I was originally told my implants would have to be switched out after 10 years, but newer recommendations were until there was an issue. One of the implants is leaking, so even though I am told it is not an emergency, I will need them to be switched out. I am a bit nervous about going under the knife again, having drains (ugh one of the worst parts), not being able to lift anything over 5 pounds for two months and not being able to exercise/dance for 2 months as well, but I know it has to be done.

I have had “re-engage” my art practice and “update my website” on my goal list for many years, but I have not really been that successful in that endeavor.
I have pivoted to mostly Instagram posts and have connected with so many artists and online friends that may not be aware of my cancer journey and my life experiences. I thought this anniversary would be a good place to start to re-tell some stories about my past and the different phases, lives or layers as I like to call them:

Early life/childhood
College/early career
Marriage/before kids
After kids
Before cancer
After cancer
After divorce
17-year survivor/thriver….continually adding layers to the canvas of life.