An open letter to My Breast Cancer: Lori Rees, Survivor

Dear Cancer,

I am writing today because I feel like I haven’t told you how I feel about having had you in my life, and I hate to leave any relationship unresolved.

You came into my life when I least expected you. I had never felt more healthy-physically, mentally and spiritually. How ironic, right? Well, thank you for choosing such a time to arrive. My body had been building a fortress and I was prepared. Actually, there are many things for which I would like to thank you:

Thank you for introducing yourself so clearly. I knew you were an alien visitor when I felt you for the first time. I knew I couldn’t wait to introduce you to my doctor, and take a closer look.

Thank you for allowing me to meet such amazing professionals at Huntsman, who gave me wonderful advice, re-assurance, and care.

Thank you for allowing me to meet other patients who inspired me and helped me along the way.

Thank you for showing me the kindness of complete strangers who offered hugs.

Thank you for re-connecting me with friends who reached out and encouraged me, and showed me such love.

Thank you for letting me accept help from my neighbors and friends, who cooked meals for us, mowed our lawn, and checked up on our family. That vulnerability is sometimes difficult to give in to. But I realized that accepting that love, support and help from others, is healing for all involved.

Thank you for showing me how strong a mother’s love is. My mother stepped in and didn’t allow me to lift a finger with laundry or housework. Thanks Mom!

Thank you for showing me how important it is to do what I love to do.

Thank you for teaching me that being present in every moment is what I should always strive for. Every day counts. Every moment counts. Cliché? Maybe. But true.Most of all, thank you for the realization that I am much stronger than I ever thought I was.

During our relationship, I never gave you any points or credit for anything. But I suppose I ought to have given you one. You get one point for my hair. I loved mine, and I miss it. I had worn short hair for 20 years, and one day, decided to grow it out. It took 7 years to get it long and luscious, and I was having fun with it. I am an actress, and I loved my “new look,” as I was just gaining my stride, getting back into the business. So you can chalk that one up, and know you knocked me down a peg, but you didn’t take anything else away from me. I can say that with confidence. You were never allowed to take away my optimism, my determination, or my spirit of adventure. And you certainly didn’t take away my talent.

So, who won? I guess it’s a matter of perspective. If your intent was to take my life, literally, or figuratively, then you lost. Big-time. But if you intended to show me a few things about myself and others; if you wanted to keep me on my toes, then you won. Either way, I get to be a better person for it.

So, as I say goodbye, know that I have no contempt for you. I don’t blame you for wanting to know me. I’m a pretty great gal! But I must ask you to respect my wishes and never return. I think we both gained all we could in this relationship. Let’s not make it messy, by dragging it out.

 

Sincerely,

Lori Rees, Survivor.lori lori1

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