Monday, July 26, 2010

Two Years Ago Today...

I've had a lot on my mind this month, and very little of it has been BRCA-related, so I haven't felt like I've have much to share here recently. But today is a special day, and it deserves a post of its own.

Today is my second wedding anniversary. Making it to this mark is hardly a milestone (unless you are a Hollywood starlet whose martial bliss can usually be counted in hours rather than years), but, as a couple, my husband and I have endured more in the last two years than many face in decades. My BRCA journey is very closely related to my married life because exactly eight days after our wedding, I got an email from my father that would change my life. That's when I learned that a genetic mutation was responsible for the cancers that plagued my father's extended family and that I might -- might -- have inherited it, too. I remember exactly where I was when I read that email (sitting at the kitchen counter at my family's beach house, where G and I retreated after the wedding for a "mini-moon" (we went to Belize on our official Honeymoon in January 2009)), what I was wearing (damp bathing suit), what I was feeling (sheer dread). And so, although I didn't know yet whether or not I was a BRCA mutation carrier (or even really what that meant), I chart the beginning of this awful experience to that moment, eight days after the best day of my life.

In the two years since my wedding my life, and the life I hoped to create with my husband, changed rapidly. Four months after that first email: my dad tests positive for BRCA2. Four months after that: I test positive for BRCA2. Eight months after that: I undergo preventative surgery. Seven months later: here I am. And I feel like I've come to the end of one chapter of my BRCA journey.

That's why this wedding anniversary is so significant to me; it's like, at long last, now that I don't have to exert all my energy worrying about cancer or worrying about surgery, I can finally marvel at my wonderful marriage, my handsome husband, and my hard-earned health. I feel like today is a bookend to the story of my life over the last two years, and I can move out from under the shadow that hung over my first two years of my marriage.

It goes without saying that I am profoundly grateful to my husband, who had no idea what he'd be facing when he said "I do" two years ago, for his infinite patience and rare ability to make me smile, even when I'm feeling like shit. I've sung his praises twice before, and lest this space become a shrine to my husband, I'll say simply: I'm more in love with G today than I was on the day we married, and I know I wouldn't have had the courage to do what I did if it weren't for him. Thank you, my dearest G, for loving all of me, new parts and old.

Yesterday, G and I returned to the scene of the crime, so to speak, to the contemporary art museum on the edge of Lake Michigan and stood in the same spot, in the middle of the sculpture garden, where we became husband and wife two years ago. We kissed and pledged to each other our continued affection and devotion and, of course, I teared up because we'd traveled so far in the last two years and yet, there we were, back were it all began. We were new people, of course, but profoundly the same in our love, our optimism, and our hope for our future. Today is a milestone: two years may not seem like a lot, but when you've gone through all that we have, I'd say we have a lot to celebrate.

Friday, July 2, 2010

But I Would Run 100 Miles

(Anyone else remember that horrible song? I hope it's stuck in your head now, too...)

I am totally remiss for not having posted a report from the FORCE conference (at which, yes, I stood around half-naked and allowed women to ogle and prod the new rack). But this week has been beyond busy, and we leave tomorrow morning for a few days in Cape Cod (Happy Birthday America! Let's go sailing!), so I wanted to post this quick update. Last month, I announced an ambitious fitness goal (in part inspired by my new relationship to the capacity of my body) and challenged myself to run 100 miles during the month of June. Well readers, I know you've been biting your cuticles with anticipation, but here are the results. Drum roll please.... I did it! In fact, I kicked that goal's ass. My final total: 123.26 miles. Go me.

And speaking of running, at the FORCE conference I met the lovely Liza (and her very talented sister Grace) who's been blogging about running a half marathon before her mastectomy this fall. She's now training for a 10K, and at some point this summer, I'm going to run a race with my husband in solidarity with Liza. Health, fitness, and empowerment are so important to women in our situations, and I'm proof you can have an active lifestyle after surgery. (And Liza's proof you can have one before, too!)

So, in short: set goals, achieve them, and then go back out and run some more. It's what all the cool girls are doing these days.