There is such a gray area for Previvors. We are left in this "unknown", "uncharted" territory. Not a "Survivor", often not even considered "fighters". Honestly, if someone were to label me a Survivor (as I have been before), I instantly correct them. I do not consider myself a survivor. I am Katie, I am just a young woman who was able to make a choice, I am a "Previvor". I didn't go through NEARLY as much as my Mom did. I just chose to have my breast tissue removed. I wasn't told by a doctor that I likely only have "x" amount of years to live. I was told that if I didn't have this surgery, that breast cancer would almost undoubtedly be my future...but it wasn't a death sentence, yet. I got to make a choice. A couple other previvors and I were once told by a Komen representative that they do consider us "Survivors", as we have had surgery, because of breast cancer. It just doesn't feel right to me, to be labeled as such. I have seen many survivors. I have seen a fight so strong, so unwavering, when I look into a survivors tired eyes. Yes, I have a fight in me, but, my journey, in comparison, seems so minuscule to what many survivors I know, have gone through.
On the day of my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, I wasn't sad. There wasn't an ounce of my being that wanted to walk out of the hospital. I was ready, I was happy, I was alive. For that reason, I feel like it is my "alive day". I knew what I was getting into that day. I knew I would feel physical pain, but I can honestly say, it was NOTHING compared to the amount of emotional pain that breast cancer had previously caused in my world. Nothing. I made a choice that day to change my future. I made a choice to save myself from the grasp of cancer. I made a choice to tell cancer to "F off" (Yes, I will swear right now, because my gosh...it is relevant).
In the past year, I have grown exponentially. I see the world in a new light. I feel the sun, wind, and rain with passion. I feel love, laughter, happiness, and sadness with so much more depth. I am a changed woman. I am a newer, better version of me, because of my "alive day". I look at my loved ones with a stronger sense of awareness and compassion, for I understand the gift of life...the gift I have been given. I was given a fighting chance. I was given life. All of the people that collectively worked to grant me such an incredible opportunity (one that I only wish my mother had been given), they saved me. They saved me from that visit to the doctor...the one where a doctor tries to hide the human emotion, and report the findings of a malignant breast tumor. They saved my children from having to watch their mom suffer. They saved my husband from having to bury his wife, because of a disease that he knew might eventually be my fate. Each and every person along my journey, each person that helped along this path...they were part of a life changing opportunity, a life saving opportunity, if you will.
I believe this year has been easier on me than it has for many of my loved ones, but thankfully, they all stuck around. I could thank so many people individually, but that blog post would be miles long. There are so many amazing people that have stuck by me, have cheered me on, have been proud to be my support throughout this first year...they are all equally a part of my "alive day". Without the love of family and friends, I don't know if I would have had the strength to make the decision to have my PBM...they are my reasons. This year, is completely dedicated to those people...the ones that I am honored to call "mine", be it my children, my husband, my parents, my siblings, my extended family, and my friends...if I call you "mine" in any term, you made this happen. You made this choice easy. You made my life worth living for, worth fighting for. From the day I chose to have a PBM, to today, and for the many days of my future, you too, have saved me.
I may only be one year out from this, but it is an anniversary that I will NEVER forget. I respect it, I honor it, and I am so damn proud of it.