Well, it's official:Mexico is gorgeous. For those of us who have grown up in a colder, less forgiving climate than the sunny beaches of Mexico, you all know what a treat it is to walk outside in the middle of March in flip flops and a bikini. Let me correct myself... it's a gosh darn miracle. When I imagined myself in this tropical paradise during the days prior to the trip, I also imagined the "old me", the "cancer-free" me. There I was, Erica the indestructible, defiantly sipping from a pink glass filled with pink liquid and a pink umbrella, daring the world to tell me that I was sick. I don't need to tell you how cranky it made me to get off the plane and learn that I still have cancer! What the hell is that about? My question unanswered, I woke up on Sunday morning, the hot Mexican sun blinding me through our private balcony overlooking the pool and the ocean (cue violins), strapped on my favorite 2-piece and headed outside. As I started to relax into my cozy law chair with a fine sampling of a Jody Picoult paperback, the same old thoughts started to creep into my psyche. "You have breast cancer", I scolded. "Your hair will fall out, piece by piece, and you will wear a wig for 6 months". "You will turn 30 in a chemo chair." The list of poisonous commands swam through my brain. Why did they follow me here? I'm trying to get some R & R, for Christ sake! Can't a girl get a tan in peace?
When I opened my eyes, I was still in my recliner, overlooking the pool. Then I realized, that no matter where I go, I will still have cancer. I could be swimming with the penguins in Antarctica and I would have cancer. I could be having high tea with the Queen of England and still have to go through chemotherapy. Then it hit me. This is my new "normal". The quietness and peace around me suddenly became much more peaceful, and the sound of the ocean magnified in the distance. I recognized the negative thoughts and the fear, and let them pass. I reminded myself that I have a lot of other thoughts that have absolutely nothing to do with cancer, damn good ones at that. Like how I decided to order the fish tacos for dinner or how I purchased the flowing sundress from Macy's, despite the gentle warning from my hubby. From then on, I stopped obsessing about obsessing about my cancer. Cancer is a part of my life now, just like my Mexican heritage, my love of the vino, and my dimples from my Grandma, Flora. The difference is how I choose to fit them into the puzzle that is my life. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. It's not easy... but I'm working on it.