Ours was a second marriage and had been truly wonderful for 22 years—international living and travel, a wonderful son, all systems go. My husband was feeling tired, but that was to be expected since he commuted by plane between Philly and New York to head up a company. He did this so that our son would not have to change high schools, but could finish up in the school where he was an academic scholar, a leader and an outstanding athlete.
My husband's fatigue and nagging cough turned out to be multiple myeloma. Our world came undone. He went through two stem cell transplants and taught me strength in the face of amazing challenges. Not to be outdone, I was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to 10 nodes. I, too, went through a stem cell transplant. Picture the two of us injecting Epogen and Neupogen to keep our counts up, while our son was attending a premier university, trying to keep grades high and calling twice a day to 'check in.'
My husband passed away four years ago. I focused on practical arrangements and moved closer to my aging parents. My son and I were having dinner on one of his visits home and he said, "Mom, what are you going to do? You are so vital and you have to channel this vitality in some form. You've survived and have been given a second chance."
I did some research and focused on something that I respected and felt would benefit me as I pass into the 'golden years' (I am currently 56—diagnosed at 47). To cut to the quick, I became certified in Pilates by a prestigious instruction school. I teach clients at my small, private studio and I also teach classes at other facilities. I went on to become a Cancer Exercise Specialist, which enables me to incorporate Pilates when working with women who have had mastectomies and don't see themselves as whole and strong.
In addition, I joined an authoritative group that supports breast cancer and have been profiled as a survivor who truly believes in the power of the mind and physical wellness to regain the level of self-esteem and confidence that is often lost during the ordeal of treatment.