For All Intents and Purpose – A Life Redefined!
Contributed by Angela Long
In early 2004, I was a busy mom of two active children. My healthy, happy bundles of joy (ages two and five) were destined for greatness, I was sure of it. Why? Because I was fortunate to be home with them, having the privilege of spending 24/7 helping to shape my children into excellence; teaching them all the things things I had learned in my lifetime.
At that time in my life, that was my intent and purpose. Good days were good, and bad days were…. well, not so good. My happiness hinged on how well my children behaved and performed, because that was a representation of how I was doing as a mother and a person. But, my biggest struggle was that they had minds of their own and preferred doing what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it! All of my wisdom and knowledge seemed to fall on deaf ears, especially for my five-year-old. My hope was that one day I would figure out that magic formula to help him see the light and follow this path to great success that I had laid out for him and his sister.
Then in February of that year, at the age of 35, a twist of fate happened. I heard these three little words that would forever change my view on life … “You have cancer.”
It was an aggressive breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes and was considered to be late stage II. I was suddenly thrown into a world where my health and my needs had to come first. My children’s future depended on it!
My biggest worry was if I didn’t survive this, there would be no one to shape my children into the excellent human beings they could become. I carefully followed the doctor’s recommendations of treatment, a total of six surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and a year of targeted medicine specific to my type of cancer.
During that time, I was forced to rely on others to help care for my children and me. As someone used to doing it all, this was very difficult. It made me feel weak; more so than the chemotherapy poison that was being injected into my body. Fortunately, the love and support from my wonderful husband, family and friends helped to ease my pain, fear, and sense of overwhelming vulnerability.
Throughout my treatment, I couldn’t wait for it to be over so that I could get back to my normal life. However, when my treatment was complete, I didn’t see things quite the same way as I had before my diagnosis. My view on life had been redefined for me without my permission. I was left to figure out a whole “new normal.” Who was I? What I was doing? Where I was going? And, the consuming thought ~ the fear of my cancer returning.
I felt much like a caterpillar in its cocoon. I was going through the motions of life, but had pulled away from it, too. At a time when I should have been embracing my every breath, I was finding it hard to breathe.
A gradual transformation happened, and realizations came to me one-by-one over the next several years. I learned to cope with the fear of my cancer returning by focusing on creating visions of a healthy future. Through study and experience, I discovered that my thoughts could either feed my fear or, alternatively, help me to heal…I chose the latter!
I knew that my needs had to remain a priority and as the kids got older, this got easier to manage. It was then that I decided to become a life-long student of health of my body, mind and spirit through fitness, nutrition, meditation and mindfulness.
I realized that my life’s intent and purpose was out there waiting to be revealed to me ~ in addition to my treasured role as a mother. I embrace my everyday and the joy of that day, especially when it helps others. My happiness and delight is found through experiencing life, taking chances, using my gifts, and expanding myself through learning, loving and living.
Facing cancer opened me to many life lessons. Ironically, many were taught to me by my smart, independent and capable children. I’ve transitioned from being their director and teacher to more of their observer, encourager and guide. Though I still see my most important and treasured role as their mother, I have come to understand the only change and greatness I am responsible for is that within me.
Bio for Angela Long
Since her breast cancer diagnosis in 2004, Angela Long has been drawn to helping others through what she has learned along the way and enjoys discovering others who share that passion.
Angela is the founder of Breast Investigators, an online comprehensive breast cancer resource networks to help others find the information, care, and support resources they are in search of. She is also the host of Girl Talk on Health, a monthly meet up in Sarasota, Fl where she invites expert guest speakers to freely share their knowledge to help women improve their health. Angela strongly believes that by sharing information, it helps empower to have better conversations with their doctors about their own best care and make informed decisions with regard to their best health.
Angela is a tireless fundraiser for non-profits and educating family, friends and acquaintances on the importance of breast cancer screening and early detection. She also helped many other breast cancer survivors during their journey through treatment.
But even with all of this, Angela felt the need to do something more and decided to take her advocacy work online. Through her volunteer and advocacy work in her community, she began seeking out and studying national organizations and foundations that offer information, support and programs that serve those affected by breast cancer in addition to those that promote the prevention and cure of cancer.
It is Angela’s intention on BreastInvestigators.com to create a platform where women and men can gain from the knowledge of experienced and authoritative members of the network, learn of local events and resources available to them, and connect with others. She believes that, together, we can take the mystery out of breast cancer.