It was three years ago today when everything in my life changed — when I realized that I had cancer.
I don’t remember now exactly when I had noticed the small lump in the flesh of my left breast. I probably realized it — and acknowledged it to myself — in stages that took a few weeks or a month. I’m not sure. At first, I figured it was something that would just go away, but it didn’t.
It was the late afternoon of the last day of 2011 when I finally decided to call a doctor friend about it. I went over to his house for him to take a look and give me an unofficial opinion. Although the official diagnosis wouldn’t come from a specialist until a week or so later — and the surgery a few weeks after that — it was Dec. 31, 2011 that I really knew what was going on.
There was a realistic chance that I might die.
Since the surgery removed the lump and there’s been no sign of any trouble since then, that might sound overly dramatic. At the time, though, it was an emotional wake-up call. It forced me to think about what mattered and what didn’t matter in my life.
After my friend checked out the lump and offered his opinion that it almost certainly was cancer, we sat on his front porch and talked about life. We talked about things we had both wanted to do and about how certain things hadn’t gone as we wanted them to go. I shot the photo above as we sat and talked in the fading light of the year’s last sunset.