Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

From Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul

Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

If a man does his best, what else is there?

General George S. Patton

Why me? I have asked that question more times than I care to count over the past twenty-four years, and the only answer that makes any sense is “sometimes you just get lucky.” I am a four-time breast-cancer survivor and have lived with cancer for most of my adult life. I know little else—I have no sense of how my life might have been without cancer. Everyone’s life has a rhythm: get the kids up and off to school, hurry to work, rush to the supermarket after work to buy food for the next day’s breakfast, check homework, get kids to bed on time, then collapse into bed to recharge for another day.

My life rhythm is almost identical, but it includes another element that those spared from breast cancer will never know: regular visits to the oncologist, scans, X-rays, ultrasounds, biopsies, surgeries, breast reconstruction, implants, chemotherapy, radiation, tamoxifen, reading and researching, blood tests, and more. It’s a carefully choreographed movement that develops its own rhythm. Get the kids up, rush to work, visit the oncologist, get blood work done, pick up the toaster waffles, check homework, read the latest findings on a new and promising drug or vaccine, then bedtime for all.

That is my life. Most wouldn’t trade theirs for mine, whatever the price, yet I consider myself lucky and wouldn’t trade places with them either. I don’t always catch the green lights at precisely the right moment or choose the quickest line at the supermarket. But how could I not feel lucky? I’m fifty-three years old and still here! Since my first diagnosis of breast cancer at the age of twenty-nine, I’ve had the privilege of waking to 8,760 mornings. I’ve celebrated twenty-four birthdays. I carried, delivered, nurtured and raised two beautiful children, now in their teens, who show great promise for a bright future. I played a mean game of tennis for years. I jumped for joy at the publication of my first children’s book. I’ve learned to sail. I have a house with a view of the water. All this, while living with breast cancer. How could anyone think my life has not been lucky?

Friends and family have told me often they could NEVER go through what I’ve been through. This statement is a curious one. I want to ask, “Would the alternative be better?” We all know the answer to that question.

Somehow, when faced with adversity, strength pays you a visit. It invites itself in and begins its transformation on your inner being. Emotions, resolve, the will to win, all of which have been at a constant simmer, begin to boil and erupt with a determination to beat this challenging opponent. Does everyone win? Sadly, no. There are no quick and ready answers as to why. But you must try with a vengeance to ensure you’ll be here to do whatever it is you’re destined to accomplish. My belief in that thought kept me going through each biopsy or chemotherapy treatment. I knew my journey had miles to go, and I couldn’t give up without my best effort.

People often ask me, “If you could relive your life, would you change anything, or wish to be cancer-free?”

My answer is always no. Everything that has happened to me, including having had cancer four times, has led me to this exact place in my life. There is a reason my life evolved the way it did. Someday I hope to learn that reason.

Has cancer been easy? Not always. Did it change my focus? Absolutely! Has it forced me to stop and pay attention to the important things in my life? Without question. And I wouldn’t change a thing. I like a good challenge, and I’ll take luck wherever I can get it.

Arlette Braman

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