This time, 7 years ago, my roller-coaster ride with cancer began – tumour found, biopsied, condemned. Living the norm of what was my life one day; a world inexorably off-kilter the next. The surreal nature of this experience is a memory I will never forget. A life-changing moment that made everything before it seem separate from the skin that I now somehow had to call my own.
This same time, 3 years ago, a different country, different hospital and I’m struggling to breathe. Fighting for my life in ICU with acute pneumonia. Memories of quarantine, masks, swollen hands and round after round of painful antibiotic solutions. Throw into this mix the doctors dealing with 3 victims of this infection – one cured, one dead and now me. And amid this trauma, the death of my mother-in-law in Australia requiring of course the departure of my now grieving husband from my bedside.
This time now, I stand strong, graced with health, wellbeing and awareness. My heart goes out to others not so fortunate. I now enter my 8th year post cancer, my 4th year post illness. And I celebrate each day with gratitude and appreciation.
Milestones are blessings, defined as significant stages in the development of, in this case, our life journeys. They remind us of where we were and how far we’ve moved on. They remind us too of the transient nature of experience, good or bad.
Health milestones are even more poignant, reminding us of our amazing innate potential for healing. For me, July is a special month framed by trauma and sadness. With each year that goes by though, I reclaim it, celebrating what I’ve learnt, how I’ve grown and all that I’ve had the opportunity to experience. Another milestone. Another chance to savour memory, remembering how the past can continue to shape the present for the better.