December 20, 2007

Before. After.

That’s my date. The date that would change my life irrevocably. There are other dates in my life that changed things for me, but none more significant than that date, the date that a surgeon sat on a stool across from me in the examining room, pointed at my left breast, and said in a staccato-like voice:

That’s cancer!

and went on to blather about Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

Dec. 20, 2007. Five days before Christmas. I was just about to send out Shutterfly Christmas pictures of Frank, Nate and I — they would be late, but they would be sent out that Christmas unlike the previous Christmas when nothing was sent due to perpetual busyness. They never got sent. My life got torn apart by a few words said on Dec. 20. Before and After. Before the diagnosis and After the diagnosis. That was even before the worst — the diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer — was yet to come.

I spent the next two days after the diagnosis crying, on and off, and then finally was able to say the words out loud to my family.

The Before. The After.

Many people have A Date, A Date that divides their lives into The Before and The After. What’s your date?

In the book I Will Not Be Broken, author Jerry White, who lost a leg in a land mine accident, states the following:

Can you recall your date? Your own before-and-after moment, when life is cut in two by horrible pain or shocking news?
References to dates burned in our memory — when life is dramatically changed — appear in all kinds of survivor literature, including military battles, conquests, and political assassinations . . . . Most people, when telling stories of a crisis, will date their turning point. One survey found that 85 percent of people feel they have experienced such turning points. (p. 16-17)

Of course it is important what happens to people on those dates — death of a loved one, diagnosis of a serious illness, relinquishment of a baby, a terrible accident, rape, so many things that could go wrong — but just as important is what happens after The Date, how the person goes on to heal from the trauma, to, as Jerry says, not only survive but thrive afterwards.

His book, I Will Not Be Broken, talks about how to survive and thrive after a trauma. He knows firsthand about the subject, having lost a leg and been otherwise damaged in a land mine accident at the age of twenty. I’ll write more about the book in future posts, but for now, share with me Your Date. When is Your Before and After. What happened?

In closing, I’d like to share one last quote from Jerry’s preface which is probably not a surprise to those of us who use the blogging world to reach out to others in the same or similar predicaments of our own:

No one survives alone. We need each other.

December 20, 2007. What’s your date?

Cross posted to Just Enjoy Him.

12 Responses to December 20, 2007

  1. […] December 20, 2007 « Mothers With Cancer on July 21, 2008 at 1:44 […]

  2. imstell says:

    Oh, Judy – This is an excellent post. And an excellent topic. I agree with you that we should all share our Before and After dates – I think some will surprise even ourselves. But I think they should be posts.

    Dare we have a “Theme Post”?

  3. justenjoyhim says:

    That would be fine with me, Stella, and I think it would be really interesting to read about peoples’ Before and After dates.

    For what it’s worth, I think it’s a good idea.

  4. Ginny says:

    December 30, 2003. The day my son died.

  5. whymommy says:

    This is a great theme … would love to hear other stories on the topic. Guest posts welcome too.

  6. Jill Aldrich says:

    Judy, This is a meaningful topic that others would benefit greatly from. Also, nice writing! I loved this. Very thought-provoking.

    Stella, I love the idea of a theme post(s). It would give us and our readers so many different viewpoints, which is the strength of this blog. I’ll do a before/after post this weekend after I meet a couple deadlines.

    Ginny, I’m sure you hold your Before close to your heart. I hope you’ve found a little grace and peace in your After.


  7. Ginny says:

    Thank you, Jill….


  8. I like the idea of theme posts, especially because this one is so much more complicated than I first thought

    I have several “before” and “afters”

    If I have to choose the most significant “before & after” then my “before” is really a “between”

    Between Pesach (Passover) 2007 and June 2007, I thought I was done with cancer, and could get on with my life

    After June 2007 — I discovered that I would never be done with cancer

    BOOM — life as we know it is changed forever

  9. […] or make online books every 6 months for my kids and their grandparents.  All that stopped on my date, June 16, 2007.  I have still been taking pictures, but I have NOT been sending them off, printing […]

  10. […] or make online books every 6 months for my kids and their grandparents.  All that stopped on the date I was diagnosed, June 16, 2007.  I have still been taking pictures, but I have NOT been sending […]

  11. Thank you for sharing the information. I found the details very helpful.

  12. sonicrafter says:

    Great post. Hope to read even more good posts in the near future.

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