On This Day

5yearsagoOn November 16th, 2011, I finished a series of testing that included over 60 mammogram images, and a needle biopsy in 3 separate places in my breasts. For two of the biopsies the large needle collapsed cysts. For the third, a large mass, it didn’t. I looked at the doctor who inserted the needle and asked her, “What do I tell my husband?” She said, ” Tell your husband you have cancer.”

I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it.

That mass hadn’t been tested yet. I needed concrete answers.

I moved into the room with my cancer nurse navigator, and again asked her, “What do I tell my husband?”

She told me to wait until the test results came back in order to give a definite answer. I wouldn’t know for sure until the next day. Let him know there is a possibility that is was just a mass. But to be able to receive the call in a place I was comfortable talking or receiving any news.

I walked out of the office convinced. I was just a mass. Not cancer.

The next day, November 17th, 2011, 5 years ago today, I was out with Tim running errands and our car died. I was not happy. Nothing was going right.

We called a local rental car company to pick us up and take us to their office so we could rent a car until ours was fixed.

In the midst of that car ride, with my husband and the rental agent in the front seat, as I sat fuming in the back – my phone rang.

“Yes, Hello?”

“Mrs. Savage, I don’t have good news.”

It was cancer.

I wasn’t ready to pour out my grief with the rental car agent.

But the silent tears started to flow. Tim turned around and looked at me as I nodded my head.

I don’t remember anything else the nurse said except the date and time of my next appointment that would turn into scores of appointments.

When we finally got into our rental, I was in shock. Mad, disappointed, sad and a deep grieving in my heart of what my journey was going to look like.

November 17th, 2011. The day I found out I had cancer.

I was so upset. I week later a well meaning person told me to be sure not to sin in my anger. I wanted to flick her in the forehead. If you are someone who just found out a friend has cancer, let your friend go through all the feelings they need to feel without you trying to guide them on how they should deal with it.

Lots happened in those first few weeks. From more testing to my first surgery to remove the mass.

In the next few months I did have a lot of appointments. Some surgeries, a double mastectomy and reconstruction, chemotherapy, lots of pricking with needles. Through everything, at every appointment, my husband was by my side. He is a spectacular husband.

Today, 5 years later, as I look back on the last five years, I am glad to be alive.

In these past 5 years I have packed a lifetime of amazingness. I have set out and accomplished goals that seemed impossible.

I survived Breast Cancer. We have written songs and chapters of books. I became a health coach – I KNOW how important our health is and I want to help as many people get healthy – whether that is physically, mentally, spiritually or financially. The non-profit I founded, BeLoved, expanded and has done work in 10 cities and is stronger than ever connecting with a 1000 women a month. My husband and I launched a thriving church plant in South Beach Miami in a tattoo shop that is now a multi site of a local church there. We finally found a city that we ADORE in St Augustine FL and have so many people around us who feel like family.

We have also suffered extreme loss, betrayal and pain. I battled with deep depression for a time.

We experienced the ups and down of this crazy life.

What I AM sure of, is that you can’t experience deep joy without deep pain. When I numbed the pain, I couldn’t feel joy either.

To truly live out the adventure of our lives, we have to be willing to experience the depth of emotion whether heartbreakingly sad or exceedingly happy.

Today, I want to encourage you to live and love your life. Be fully present. Take risks. Love deeply. Become your best self.

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  1. Winnie Yakulis says:

    Sandi, you are lucky to have a husband like Tim and a wonderful family. I am a breast cancer survivor like you. We are all survivors and have stories to tell. I thank God for being at my side.

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