Some of the "firsts" in our lives are exciting. Your first kiss, your first love, your first dance. Then there is your first car, your first checkbook and your first place. The first time you were totally responsible for yourself and paid all of your bills on time! Other firsts are emotional "biggies" like meeting the man you will marry and knowing it in your gut. Feeling the life inside of you stir within your womb, holding your babies in your arms. There are other types of "firsts" too that aren't all that great. Like the first time you realized sharing a bathroom wasn't so fun, the first time you had a fight with your spouse, the first time you put your children in time out, the first time you had to call the pediatrician in the middle of the night.
I suppose firsts can be good or bad, depending upon how you look at them. This year...this month in particular, has been the "firsts of all firsts" for me. Just this month, I found out that I have breast cancer. I have a particular kind called IDC or Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. This is a cancer that first begins inside of the milk ducts, but over time, creeps out into the surrounding breast tissue. Hearing the word "cancer" in relation to my own physical person....was a first. Then of course, there are the first time medical tests.....stereotactic need biopsy, ultrasound guided core needle biopsy, MRI, estrogen receptor tests...and it goes on and on.
I also experienced for the very first time...my own mortality. The fact that I'm not going to live forever. Now, I know what you're saying to yourself....."Eeeevvverrryyybody knows that we don't live forever". Yes, I know that too. But when you are faced with the real possibility of suffering, separation from family and friends and death.....well, all I can say is that this first.....hits you as if you've been punched in the stomach. It's truly palpable!
Thankfully, my faith in God, and His Holy Catholic Church remind me that this life is only a journey! It's not the destination! There is other good news too....I am not angry at God. I'm not even angry at the cancer. So far, I just keep asking why. I know that in these next few months, there will be many answers to that question. Right now, as I wait for my next first...my mastecomy day (August 4th) and for the rigorous treatment that will surely follow, I surrender my fear and I offer it up to all the women of the world who will be told the breast cancer news and for all those experiencing firsts!