A Letter to My Post Cancer Self

By January 20, 2020 breast cancer, cancer

Hello There Beautiful!
Yes, that’s you. I know you don’t like your short, curly hair; that you think this illness has aged you 10 years and that you worry about what damage its done to you. I’m here to say – Stop! Stop right now. Stop with the blame, with the complaints, with the criticism and judgement. It’s time to leave that Liz behind with the gorged cancer cells.She’s gone – I’ve asked her to leave, move out, move on to another soul’s being. Not yours. She’s not welcome.
Instead, I’m inviting your creativity and brilliance and compassion to take up her old space, to expand their offices and initiate whatever new campaigns they’d like to or feel they need to in order to flex their muscles and make a difference in this world. Because it matters that you’re in this world. It would be a different place without you.
I want to acknowledge the hardship this journey has been for you. It may have been a year since you were diagnosed, yet it could have been yesterday. I know you’re happy to have the chemo behind you, the smell of those chemicals leaching from your skin gone, even though you swear there are moments when you can still smell them.
I want you to know how amazed I am by your ability to be weak and still make it through. I know there were dark moments – bitterly, scary, horribly dark – and you made it through!
I’m sorry you’ve had to experience this. I’m sorry for the forces that called this into your life. I am not here to tell you that it had meaning or import, but I will tell you that I am proud of the way you responded to it. I know it wasn’t easy and that no matter what you did it wasn’t going to be easy.
But you taught me that I can count on you to hunt down your sense of humor when it’s been robbed from you. You taught me that you’ll continue to put one foot in front of the other, even when it doesn’t feel like you’re moving forward. You’ve taught me that you have a resilience that is like forged steel, which I find admirable.
I am not going to tell you this illness has been a gift . It hasn’t. It’s taken a year from your life and has left you with a body that is weaker. But you’ve risen to the occasion in a way that is truly remarkable and miraculous. And I’d say that’s one of the things I’ve learned about you this year: You are truly remarkable.
Life has handed you challenge after challenge, challenger after challenger and you have used it to deepen your humanity, your kindness, your equanimity and your integrity. And you’re not looking back and gloating, nor are you looking back in anger. You are truly amazing. A gift and I love you, I thank you, I’m sorry and I forgive you.


Liz Johnson

Liz Johnson

Writer. Blogger. Advocate. Breast Cancer Conscript.