Second Helping.”  That’s what I called it when I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. Here are excerpts from the email I sent out to tell my friends.

     “…so I have been diagnosed with breast cancer again (last time was almost 6 years ago).  Oh well, it was a good run!  I am now scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy.  That’s the bad news.  But, get this – we will be doing reconstruction during the same surgery and they will build me a brand new set by giving me a tummy tuck!  Not the worst thing in the world……

     I don’t write this to depress you.  In fact, I am very strong and upbeat about all of this.  Yeah, recovery won’t be a walk in the park, but it will come and it will go.  And none of this should affect my long-term prognosis, so I still expect to be around for a long, long time.

     Life has a funny way of helping us organize our priorities and reminding us of what’s really important.  Two days before I got this news, we received some really good news pertaining to (one of our sons).  It’s a strong reminder that I am blessed in so many, many ways…….”

A good friend wrote, after receiving my email, “what I have learned from you and two other close friends who have had cancer, is that the brave fight on.  Clearly it is the thought of living each day to the fullest that gets you through.  I’ve learned so much from you, not only about treated for and living with cancer, but about positive attitude and quiet bravery.  I selfishly use all of you as reminders to stop and smell the roses and really appreciate my life and those around me.”

Liz talks about breast reconstruction after her second breast cancer diagnosis
Liz talks about breast reconstruction after her second breast cancer diagnosis

Those emails were sent almost five years ago.  I’m still here.  I’m still vibrant.  I’m still active, involved and loving life.  I also love my “new” body — no sagging girls for me!  No more mammograms, either.  Life is good!

Having cancer taught me some important life lessons.  It brought me closer to my friends and loved ones.  It taught me to accept help from others instead of going it alone.  It taught me that it is sometimes okay to take instead of give.  I learned to walk away from negative energy.  I learned firsthand the power of prayer and positive thinking.  I learned that I am stronger in more ways than I ever thought possible.

While I can’t say I’m glad I had cancer, I can say that my “Second Helping” brought some amazing and unexpected gifts into my life.  There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t appreciate them…