Mindee Metz My story began on July 8, 2016, watching my son’s tennis match, silently bursting with pride at his sportsmanship, kindness, and a killer backhand that belied his then 8 years. When I left his match for my regular ObGyn and mammography appointments, I felt no trepidation. Though I’d been having nervy discomfort in my right armpit, a springtime exam by my primary physician left me unconcerned. I mentioned the discomfort to my mammographer, subconsciously confident that doing so would absolve me from any potential malady. When meeting with my trusted OB-GYN, Maude Vance, I was focused on optimizing my mid-life health, not considering cancer. But soon I heard Dr. Vance alerting me to a need for more tests, and felt her hand on my shoulder, steadying me in a fleeting but real moment of pure terror. By day’s end, my radiologist pointed to my scan and uttered the words “common cancer presentation.” My immediate response was, “But I have little kids!” – as if any stockpile of blessings can stave off the seemingly intemperate but deft hand of fate. I spent two long days knowing I had cancer, but not what stage… and wondering if I would get to watch my boys grow up. That depth of darkness, I wish on no one. And yet that fear became a blessed benchmark. When I received my diagnosis (stage 2, grade 3) and treatment options, I was no longer afraid. I knew that if I just did the work, I would live to see my boys grow up. That clarity made every treatment decision, side effect and outcome infinitely worthwhile. With the exception of my husband and sons, cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me. It catapulted me to truer self, higher living and greater accountability. Recalibrated my senses of resilience, strength and fearlessness. Shaped my marriage, motherhood, friendship and faith. Reminded me what a lucky daughter I am. Showed me who – and how very many – my friends are. Made me gentler, empathetic and forgiving. Fine-tuned my language and made me a better listener. Stripped away well-concealed judgments of myself and others. Created more space for god, love, spirit and truth. Connected me with every human – survivor or not – in a beautiful and intrinsic way. But let’s be real. I also felt fear, despair and loneliness. Most days I struggled for residency in my own body, a sense of identity in a life in chaos, or even recall of my boys’ names from a broken brain. I fell down, literally and figuratively, in public. I forgot birthdays, names, appointments…and probably a lot of other things (sorry if this applies to you). I cried more in that year than in the 43 before it. I lost friends over this, those who simply couldn’t or wouldn’t step into the ugly
Mindee looks fierce and ready for some fun in a jet black fringed faux-leather moto jacket with zippers and fringe by Some Days Lovin, $149. Perfect swing tank by Minkpink, $44, and Jet black faux smooth leather skinny pants by Blank NYC, $98, finish the look. Playful agate tassel necklace adds pizazz, $54. Courtesy of Lemons & Lace Boutique, Fort Collins.
with me. And some days, I really did think I was losing my mind. But I wouldn’t trade my cancer experience for the world. It has been spiritually catalytic in ways I’m just beginning to understand. It has brought me home to a place of gratitude and grace. And maybe, if I’ve done it right, it could support and inform others’ journeys down this road. Because no one should have to do this alone. I’ve always been a fighter. It’s in my nature to do the hard thing, step up to a challenge, and not back down. Finding strength to do treatment, usually with a smile, was easy for me. The hard part was accepting the generous and genuine outpouring of love, grace and support that my diagnosis stirred in others. Being the focal point of such attention was more uncomfortable than most of my treatments. CONTINUED ON PG 50
Published on Aug 31, 2017