There is before, and there is after. The moment when nothing will ever feel the same. The light will never look the same. Your priorities will never be the same. Your perspective will never be the same. You. Will never. Ever. Be the same.

In a half a second, I had the wind ripped out of me, felt like I was going to vomit, scream and pass out all at the same time. WT actual F. I started shaking uncontrollably and thought I was crying but it sounded more like someone shoved a flopping fish down my throat and I was trying to cough it out. So much shaking. I immediately thought about our kids Teagan and John, who were 10 and 8. How do I tell them? How will they understand? How do I explain that I refuse to die?

I looked at my husband Karl and he looked at me and neither of us said anything. WT actual F is what our faces did say. What do you do? What is there to say? He spoke first, and simply said. “You are a badass chick, and you will crush this just like you have everything else. You’re my girl.”

We knew the call was coming that day and while I knew in my gut what the results would be, you’re never prepared for it. My mom was already on her way to be there to support us, so I called my sister and my dad to tell them. So much crying.

My dad. To hear your dad sob is a sucker punch. For him to realize he can’t save you from this is beyond his comprehension. To know he must watch his first-born experience something and fight to survive is not something dads are built to withstand. He has always been my guidepost and my rock and now I knew that I would need to be strong for him. I was more worried about him worrying about me.

My sister Lisa and I are two years apart and would jump inside of each other if we could. We very likely love each other more than two sisters have ever loved each other. To quote Glennon Doyle, “She is my other lung.” I expected her anguish and found solidarity in it. I knew she was hurting and internalizing the news in exactly the same way I was, and she was in very real pain.

So many people have had days like this. Their stories may be very similar or very different. Every cancer journey is so personal, unique, and worth telling. Mine is not extraordinary but I knew from that first day that I wanted to tell it. All of it.

So, where do we go from here? Well, as my sister Lisa says, “This is our new reality. What are we going to do about it?”

To that I simply answer…KICK ITS ASS.

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