Yesterday was my one-month BRCAversary. One month ago yesterday, I sat in a small medical office that is usually used to observe children with developmental disabilities and listened to the words “The results are positive” and felt like the entire world crumbled into little tiny pieces.

The month since then has seemed like a year. It’s hard to believe it’s been only a month – thirty days. In that tiny amount of time, I’ve felt more fear & sadness & hope & love than I can even quantify.

Sometimes I’ve looked at myself, at all of this, and wondered if I’m weak. Why have I spent so much time crying? Why have I spent so much time wondering if I can even handle this? Why did I try so hard to push away people who love me? A strong person wouldn’t do any of that. A strong person would take it in stride with a smile, suck it up and move forward, figure everything out and get on with life.

I wasn’t doing any of that.

But recently, I’ve been rethinking things a little. Strength isn’t not being scared. Strength is getting tested, even knowing the results probably aren’t favorable. Strength is hearing that you’re positive for a genetic mutation that gives you an 87% chance of developing cancer, and then going into work for the rest of the day. Strength is taking what you know and multiplying it, seeking out more information and knowledge daily rather than hiding your head in the sand. Strength is reaching out to others, finding solidarity and friendship and hope that things won’t always be this scary. Strength is letting someone love you and learning to believe that your self-worth isn’t based on your body. Strength is showing up and being there, even when it’s nearly impossible to be happy about your friend’s new house or new car or new job. Strength is accepting that your feelings are valid and normal and letting yourself feel them until you are ready to feel something else. Strength is waking up and getting out of bed in the morning, even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. Even when you aren’t sure what kind of life you’re waking up to.

Because the thing is? I didn’t get tested so I could get the results and give up on my life. I got tested so I could live my life. MY life, a life not impacted or shortened by cancer. And I think that was the stronger choice to make.

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