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I was born in 1953. It was never supposed to happen to me. Yet, I found a lump & had it mamogrammed and sonarred and they said it was a fluid-filled cyst. I felt it everytime I took a shower. It didn't hurt. But, for over 2 and a half years I did think it got a little bigger. Until one day, lying in my hammock in Yosemite, strung between two trees, the lump pressed against my arm, hurt and would be ignored no longer.
I knew by the first look on my nurse practitioner's face that it was cancer. She never hugged me before when I left my appointment. She did this time. People think they can keep secrets. Their bodies speak volumes.
Then the mammogram, the ultrasound, the in-office biopsy, which made the Spanish Inquisiton look like a walk in the park, the hurried biopsy on my surgeon's lunch hour just before he left for a month to India... and the news that knocked the breath from my chest. I said, "But I teach backpacking!" as if that allowed me some immunity. My husband and I parted from the surgeon that afternoon, his words ringing in my ears: "And next year you will be leading trips as a Breast Cancer Survivor."
So, after a mastectomy, an implant installed upside down, reinstalled rightside up during chemo, and finally removed because of an infection, radiation, and new reconstruction a year later with a different plastic surgeon, I am leading backpacking trips once again and, yes, now as a Breast Cancer Survivor.
The journey of life takes us down odd paths that we would otherwise never choose. Now that I'm here, I feel blessed to be part of a fraternity of remarkable women. We can be all of who we are: strong, hurt, happy, scarred, scared, silly, sad, joyous, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, and grandmothers. We are each so full that our arms are not big enough to hold it all. But our spirits can. And so can the granite bowls of Yosemite.
My trips are for fit survivors with or without camping experience who believe it's time to stop putting off living. You are invited.