A year ago I took a trip back home to Atlanta. Cheryl (a good friend of mine from high school) and her husband braved a snow and ice storm. They drove an hour and a half to see me just so she and I could catch up. We hadn’t seen each other since high school. I had recently gone through my divorce and I will never forget her encouraging and heartfelt words. Sometimes you have no idea how much passing along a smile or compliment can truly lift one’s spirit.
Cheryl wrote an amazingly inspirational article for the Gwinnett Citizen. In all the years I have known her, I don’t think I have ever seen her frown, get upset, or complain. Her positive outlook, kind heart, and desire to help others inspires me. So, it comes to no surprise that when she was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer, she began her journey with a smile on her face and a positive attitude…
By Cheryl Copeland
On April 1, 2011 my world as I knew it, would never be the same again. The doctor began by saying, “Please understand that this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.” He hesitated at first then said, “I really like your shirt!” A bit baffled, I looked down at my school Spirit Day shirt and read, “ETARBELEC YALER rof EFIL!”
If you think your eyes are playing tricks on you, they’re not; I was reading upside-down and the words rearranged themselves in my mind and shouted, “CELEBRATE RELAY for LIFE!” At that very moment my heart understood what the doctor was trying to tell me. Professionally and gently, the doctor continued, “You have Infiltrated Ductile Carcinoma. That’s a fancy way of saying that you have the most common form of breast cancer.”
Up until the doctor said the word cancer, I had often contemplated what thoughts would race through my mind if I ever heard it said to me. What would be the first words out of my mouth? Would I be able to say anything at all? Would it be a death sentence? How could my kids live without their mommy?
Okay, how would you react if, heaven forbid, you found cancer staring you in the face? What flew from my lips was nothing like anything I had ever anticipated. Without hesitation, I smiled and said, “My name is Cheryl Copeland, I have Breast Cancer! And I’m going to Disney World!”
With the doctor’s visit complete, my family and I found ourselves standing on the doorsteps to the Magical Kingdom. For the next seven days we created memories that will last a lifetime. Who would’ve guessed my life would be so blessed: laughter, family, friends for a week and all without one single thought or worry spent on the word cancer.
Moments really do fly when you are having fun and in the blink of an eye, my family and I found ourselves home, unpacked and relaxed. It was now time to sit the girls down to share with them the “Mommy’s News.”
You need to know that prior to the trip I had explained to my kids that mommy was having a biopsy to check for cancer cells. Because of this, telling them that I had breast cancer was not as difficult as you might expect and I was prepared to receive little blue eyes filled with tears. I was amazed at what came next. “Mommy, is your hair going to fall out?”
“Mommy doesn’t know exactly if that will happen yet. Every cancer is different and the way you get rid of it is too, but I promise you that no matter what way the doctors decide to get rid of these Ugly Cancer Cells, we are going to make this an Adventure! We will make this fun! If mommy finds out I have to lose my hair, then you can have fun coloring, cutting, and styling it, and then you can shave it off!”
We all had a good laugh and the next question came, “Mommy, should we be worried about you?” What I told my kids came from my heart and what I truly believe.
I explained that God did not do this to me and we simply needed to ask God each day for His guidance and wisdom. We asked Him to heal Mommy and lead her to the best doctors who will make every cancer cell go away. What I said next was that God is not the one who wants us to worry and be afraid and have scary thoughts and so we all decided that from then on it was best to focus on God and on Mommy getting well.
The night ended with more questions and more answers, but we all went to bed knowing that mommy would be okay, even if the road ahead to recovery was a long and difficult one.
And there you have it! This is my simple story of the current cancer crap in my life.
I’m not the only person who has found ‘crap’ along my path in Life. Although I believe that everyone will run into it at some point in their own lives, I also believe everyone’s crap is different. No matter what, all of it stinks! As for myself, I could have chosen to wallow in self pity and focus on nothing but the crap in my life, but instead, my family and I are choosing to do what it takes to get rid of the crap by laughing at it as hard and as much as we can! Life is full of adventures and for now, this is just one of them!