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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sounds Like A Good Excuse For A Cupcake!

Seventeen years ago today, My Sweet Hubby turned fifty years old. Instead of a surprise party or dinner at a favorite restaurant with cherished friends, he spent the day and night with me at All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth (now Baylor All Saints). It was the day I had a modified radical mastectomy of my left breast. I was forty years old.

To this very moment, if he hears me tell someone I had a 5-hour surgery on his 50th birthday, he says: “Why do you remember that?” OMGosh. Seriously? WHY DOES HE NOT??? Men mystify me every second I’m on Earth.

To back up a tad: I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer only one week before. I had NO family history of breast cancer. Heck, no history of any kind of cancer. We held on to the hope I would be fine. We were blessed to have amazing friends, our church, and churches all over our small town praying for me—putting me on Prayer Lists. In the end, cancer was determined to be a significant part of my life.

That Thursday before my operation, after a biopsy did reveal the aggressive evil in my body, Hubby and I spent the hour-long drive from the hospital to our home discussing what to do about TLC. His boys were grown and gone, all but one out of college—no longer even physically close by. They weren’t going to be affected as much as TLC—who was ten years old. Our baby. My only child. I desperately wanted her sweet life to be as routine and “normal” (What is normal, anyway?) as humanly possible.

We decided we had to tell her the truth. She’d been raised like another “adult” in our family and the chances were great she’d hear about it eventually—perhaps from another child at school. One of my sisters was with her when we got home that night. I will never forget her support and help. The four of us lay on our king-sized bed, laughing about many things—funny moments of everyone’s day. Then I gently, but candidly, broke the news to TLC. Hubby, Sis, and I fought back tears as she asked some questions. Our acting must have been Oscar worthy, because if you ask TLC now, she’ll tell you she doesn’t remember much about that evening.

One of my most touching memories of those shocking days was TLC singing Mariah’s “Hero” at a 4th grade “talent” show—two days before my surgery. She did it flawlessly. She was not only good (you ain’t gettin’ any younger, TLC—American Idol has an age limit! LOL.)—but calm, poised and, well, fabulous. Our tears, that morning, could not be stopped.

Hubby took me to all six of my chemo treatments. He wouldn’t let anyone else do it. TLC went to three of them with us. They couldn’t stay for more than a few minutes during the hours I was there, but they were allowed to check on me. She remembers that part—“kind of.” Mostly because they’d make a trip to the nearby Mall while they waited. (Hmmm. Could that have been where her obsessive love for shopping began?)

The night the first of our four sons got married, four months after my last chemo session, I cried myself to sleep in a hotel room in Dallas, while Hubby snored and TLC dreamed of her own fairytale wedding. I was extremely worried I wouldn’t be around to be with her on her magical day.

My first significant personal goal was to be cancer-free at two years. Then it was five years. Then for TLC’s high school graduation. Then ten years. Then for her college graduation. Then fifteen years. Seventeen years (and three implants—the first being all saline, the second being a combo of saline and silicone, the last being all silicone) and one beautiful Princess TLC Wedding later, I actually don’t think of myself as a “survivor.” I believe each one of us—women, men, and children—are all “survivors” each morning we wake up to face the future. We’re all confronted with uncertainty we must simply plow through on a minute-by-minute basis. I haven’t been in a tsunami, hurricane, horrendous flood, or any other kind of violent, unexplainable tragedy. Living where we do in Texas, we’re exposed to the terror of tornadoes several months out of each year. I’ve only seen one from a distance. I can barely watch the TV news as the heartbreak of Joplin, Missouri (and many other states) continues to unfold.

So the truth seems to be what we all have to learn: None of us is ever totally exempt from scary, awful, UNFAIR experiences. It’s reality. The price we pay for life. We’re all survivors.

My Hubby is an incredible man. I’m honored to share with him (and those drop-dead gorgeous brown eyes) our 34-year commitment to our relationship. He has always been here for me. I don’t like that I’ve had too many accidents, emergencies, surgeries and illnesses. It makes me embarrassed and, well, often cranky. Yet, with his help, I’ve been able to recover. What I’ve suffered from in the past has (mostly) healed. I retain constant hope for improved health and I’ll never give up or in. I can’t. Not an option. He wouldn’t let me if I tried.

Instead of dwelling on my “cancer” anniversary, I’d much rather celebrate Hubby’s Special Day. I want him to know how certain I am I wouldn’t be sharing this joy with y’all if it wasn’t for him—and TLC—their patience, devotion and, most of all, their unconditional love. I want him to feel how fortunate I know I am that he was born.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Man O’ Mine! Today it’s all about YOU. Who cares where we were 17 years ago? We're here. Now. And life is good.


Autumn said...

So I've been catching up on my very neglected very favorite blog! I love your tribute to your sweet hubby. And I'd LOVE to have a cupcake. To celebrate his birthday, of course!

The Leightons said...

Let's have two cupcakes, Ms. Autumn! Thank you ever so much--for your sweet words and 25 years of special friendship!