Five Year Anniversary

Five years.  Today marks five years since my world turned upside down.  Five years since my perspective forever changed.  Five years since I heard the words, “you have cancer.”  

I will honestly never forget my physician calling me that April afternoon in 2017 and asking me if I was alone. Then he asked me to sit down.   Being both the daughter of an orthopaedic surgeon and the wife of an anesthesiologist, I knew this was the medical prelude to delivering bad news.  He gently proceeded to explain my diagnosis of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in the left breast as I sat obediently on my side porch all alone.  I distinctly remember hyper focusing on the word INVASIVE because it was so, well, invasive.  And to be paired with the word carcinoma didn’t afford me the privilege of being naïve about the battle I was about to face.  Soon after, my sister showed up and found me on the floor in my bathroom bawling my eyes out.  I could barely muster the words to tell her why I was sobbing on the cold tile floor.  To compound the devastation, I had spent the previous 4 years to my diagnosis being the wing man of my childhood best friend, Jennifer, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 (click here to read Jen’s journey).   I attended her doctor appointments, sat with her through chemo, babysat her young toddler, cried while holding her hand and even visited her future grave site with her where she proudly remarked, “look, I have a view of the water!”.  I was with her the days leading up to her death and the night before she passed away in 2016.  Watching her wither away, but also be at peace with where she was going was both heart wrenching and inspiring.  And now all of a sudden it was my turn.  

As you know, I have chronicled my entire breast cancer journey on this blog. But today, TODAY, I want to celebrate five years of being cancer free.  And even as I write those words, I feel tentative because do you ever really know?  If there’s one thing I learned from having cancer (which I’ve actually learned much, much more), it’s that we only have today.  Looking into the future can make us anxious, looking into the past can make us depressed.  My mantra throughout my breast cancer journey was “Make Every Day Count.”  I clung to those words because it was all I could control. And frankly, it was all I could tolerate given the magnitude of emotions I was experiencing.   A small chunk of time seemed much less daunting than the runaway train of wondering what was to come or reliving the trauma of losing a best friend.  Today.  I can handle today. 

I just had my five year check up with my oncologist and everything was great.  Vitals were on point and blood work looked good.  Walking into Baylor hospital always brings up a well of emotions for me no matter the reason for the visit. I see the same nurses, the same physicians and the same front desk personnel. To have professionals who have been on this journey alongside me for 10 years (since Jen’s diagnosis) feels comforting in an unexplainable way. Only they know what happened in those appointments, in that hallway and in the waiting room all those years. The tender moments, the horrific scan results, the laughter amidst the crying, etc. All of it on display for strangers who somehow became family. What an unexpected gift.

But there are scars – emotional and physical – that haunt me occasionally.   There’s not a day that goes by that I am not reminded of my journey.  It’s not crippling, but it’s ever present.  Mostly it’s feelings of gratitude for good health sprinkled with a dab of survivor’s guilt (which is very real, by the way).  Cancer is funny in that it teaches you so many valuable lessons, but still manages to send you to the principal’s office occasionally.   As a result, my perspective on life is greater.  My everyday experiences are richer.  My appreciation for the mundane is stronger.  And my resilience from adversity is unwavering.

Our youngest son will be a senior in high school next fall, and my two oldest boys are a freshman and sophomore in college, respectively.  I often think about how the past five years for them as high schoolers would have looked completely different if my treatment had not been successful.   Selfishly, I can’t even imagine missing their baseball or soccer games, their proms, senior parties and Sunday night family dinners.  But the fact that their worlds were not disrupted, and that God allowed me those years with them is the best gift of all.  Truly.  My family is everything to me and the thought of not being able to experience life alongside them is unfathomable.  As my boys get older, I’ve realized the tenderness of childhood.  I’ve realized that it’s fleeting.  And I’m unbelievably grateful my husband and I were forced to become acutely aware of how short life is so that we could make meaningful memories with our boys while they were young.  We’ll never get that time back, and I love that I can smile knowing we cherished each and every moment.  All thanks to cancer.    

So five years.  It feels both like a lifetime ago and like yesterday.  How does time do that?  I am a changed person.  And even though I had no choice in the matter, I am forever grateful.

So for now, I am signing off with a very full heart, a clean bill of health and a changed perspective on life. Glory be to God!

Much love and MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT!

Jamie

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5

20 thoughts on “Five Year Anniversary

  1. I loved reading this joyful post about your winning the battle with cancer. You are a strong woman and you certainly have demonstrated for all of us that life is beautiful and meaningful and worth the fight. I will always admire you.

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  2. You ooze joy. Thankfulness and peace follow you. You inspire. You remind us to embrace our journey. Love that you posted this. Thank you, Jesus, for JK.

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  3. Jamie… so happy for you and your family!! What a wonderful testimony… Praise to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!!
    ❤️❤️❤️ SheriQ

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  4. Congratulations! So thankful for you and your mentorship through my breast cancer journey. This is beautifully written – well done! The part about Jenn and her gravesite makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

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  5. Oh how I can relate to all you wrote. God, in His goodness, brought us through dark, anxious days and He never left us. I am beyond happy for you. Your sons ar handsome, fine men and I know Trevor was a wonderful caregiver. I love you lots and know you are making each day count for yourself and all of us ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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  6. I saw a picture of you recently and marveled at the fact that you hadn’t needed to blog for a while. I’m so grateful that you are still considered cancer free. Prayers that it continues!

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  7. Congratulations on five years, Jamie! And thank you for the update on you and your family. You touched so many with sharing your cancer story, including me. I always love your beautifully written thoughts and perspectives. XOXO, Mollie Walker

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  8. Reading your update really touched me today. 💜 “Make Everyday Count!” Life is short and you do have to take it a day at a time. Live each day to the fullest! I love you and your family. Happy 5 year Anniversary! 💖

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  9. Dear sweet “little” Jamie. Reading your blog this morning meant so much to me. We not only share our names but also share the blessing of being survivors of the big “C”! It was a terrifying experience but we had God on our side and he allowed us to have successful outcomes. You so eloquently relayed your feelings and emotions during your dark days. Even though our experience came at different times in our lives, we both can appreciate everyday of our time remaining on this earth. I am thankful to have you and the rest of you family as a huge part of my life. Continue to make every day count! I love you and the Joy you exude.♥️♥️♥️
    Aunt Jamie

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  10. I sing praises WITH you and FOR you and your five year celebration of being cancer free! You are a gifted writer and sharing your journey, I know, helped you, but more over, helped so many more. Blessings to you, Trevor and those three handsome young men. (Which, btw, how is that possible?) ❤

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  11. I celebrate with you today girl…. praising our Lord and Savior for the work he has done through you and through your family!

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  12. I was wondering how you were! I hadn’t seen a blog for so long. PRAISE JESUS you’re free. Now, Father, grant Jamie more fulling years with her family. Praise YOU for the mercy You’ve shown her. Amen and Anen 🙌🏻

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  13. Hi Jamie, I was sitting here eating lunch when I came across your blog. Now tears are running down my face for the magnitude of God’s grace in your life and ours. We are truly grateful for the “light” he has shined on all of us that are graced by you and your family.We love you and your guys! Patti

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  14. Jamie, this makes my heart so happy! Congratulations!! He is good! All the time!

    Denny Slaton 214.808.5230 cell

    On Wed, Apr 13, 2022 at 8:40 AM The Breast Case Scenario wrote:

    > Jamie Kraus posted: ” Five years. Today marks five years since my world > turned upside down. Five years since my perspective forever changed. Five > years since I heard the words, “you have cancer.” I will honestly never > forget my ” >

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  15. Congratulations!!!!!
    I feel so privileged to be included in reading your joyful and inspiring words. I am grateful for your continued good health. I want to keep your words at the front of my mind, that we only have today.
    Please give my best to your beautiful family❤️

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  16. Great, great post. It is truly a journey, Jamie. You will get to a point (mine was around year 7) where you really don’t think about or worry about breast cancer recurrence any more. I remember hoping and praying that I would make it until Will was 17 (thinking he would be going to college soon and wouldn’t need me as much) and now he’s 24! You will take all of the gratitude and love of life with you, but the worry will really be gone from your daily experience. So happy for you and your family!

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  17. Wow do I understand this post. Every word you said is so true. Until you are touched by cancer, you never really understand the uncertainty of life ahead. You keep waiting for the shoe to drop, you are so very thankful and grateful, but still terrified every time you are in the doctor’s office. And survivor’s guilt is so real, especially every time you leave the oncologist office. Right now all this cancer stuff is very new to me, so I have so many overwhelming emotions. I’m beyond thankful and blessed, but I am also scared and worried. Thank you for sharing the words I feel daily. This was beautifully written and I appreciate you sharing your journey.

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  18. Celebrating you today and everyday! You continue to inspire me with your positive attitude and wisdom that comes from your perspective. Beautiful words in this post. Love you!

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  19. Jamie, I am so grateful that you have reached this huge milestone. You are such a gifted writer! You have a beautiful way of expressing yourself. Thank you for being an inspiration to me. Love you, Patra

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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