This is my next

My story behind the Live Next cancer awareness event

Next:

After. Then. Looking forward. Looking forward to. I made it. I did it.

I have NEXT on my arm. It was my word, our word, for what made sense in respect to facing what I had to do to be well.


Commentary


I had breast cancer. I still struggle to say it out loud. It gets stuck in the back of my throat. I trip over the words when I say them, and I don’t say it often. It’s something I struggle to accept. Something that never seemed real, I guess.

But it couldn’t have been more real. For it being something I struggled to make real, and still do, it’s something that is mine. Why I would want something to be mine that I hardly even recognize is a strange feeling.

However, there are so many people that I’ve known to be diagnosed, to be fighting this disease. When I hear of someone being diagnosed, it breaks me. It stops me in my tracks. I don’t think anyone should go through it. I did it, it should be over, it’s done. That doesn’t make sense, even when what I went through is nothing compared to what others have faced, and are facing. It’s a terrible club to be a part of…

I’ve never thought of what I went through as a story. A story has a beginning, a middle, an end.

I don’t have an end to this. This is something that will forever be a part of me. Daily aches and pains, scars and radiation tattoos are all physical reminders. Emotional scars that cause anxiety, fear, and worry. Dates that pop up in the calendar to remind me what happened. These are all ways that say a story isn’t over. Plus, I love stories, I love reading stories. I’d rather think of this as a journey, a major life lesson.

I’m celebrating five years of being cancer-free in April. I know how fortunate I am. I’m so thankful for the blessing of it. So here are my stats:

  • Diagnosed at 37

  • Stage 2B HER2+

  • Chemo

  • Double Mastectomy

  • Extenders, Prosthetics, Implants

  • Radiation

  • Lymphedema


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Related

Hear Stephanie’s story on an earlier episode of Lee’s Summit Town Hall.


Editor's Note: Stephanie Parker is a Lee's Summit resident. Views and opinions expressed in her columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.