Pennwell web 375 272

Embracing 'the both'

Oct. 1, 2011
Breast cancer survivor shares a moment of closure

Breast cancer survivor shares a moment of closure

by Sheri Kay, RDH, BS

Editor’s Note: Sheri Kay, an Amherst, Ohio, dental hygienist and practice coach for Act Dental Practice Coaching, was interviewed by Cathy Seckman, RDH, for the Sept. 2010 issue of RDH. In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, RDH asked Ms. Kay for permission to reprint a section from the journal that she wrote while being treated for, and recuperating from, breast cancer. This journal entry was posted on Dec. 6, 2010 — her last entry in the journal. She is currently seeking a publisher for her journal, which is titled, “Hineni: Journal of a Breast Cancer Survivor.” Seckman’s article can be found in the archives at The photograph at right appeared with the RDH article, showing Ms. Kay in an early stage of treatment. The other photograph is a current, post-treatment photo of her. We hope all breast cancer survivors can regain their footing in life as Ms. Kay has done.

For as long as I can remember, December has been a month when everything slows down. You know, the trees are all naked and the bears go off to hibernate somewhere. All of us two-leggeds settle into the cold and wait for the snow to bury us in. This year, December feels completely different, and I feel as though I’m running into it and gaining speed along the way. I’m sure it’s the hot flashes, but the cold (and it is very cold out there) isn’t even fazing me. I love the brisk freshness in the air and the anticipation of the New Year right around the corner. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy about a year coming to a close.

Once again, I find myself embracing “the both,” but this time it is “the both” of endings and new beginnings. After all, you can’t have one without the other.

Two months ago, I was giving a lot of thought and energy to what closure would look like for me after all the surgeries and chemo. I wasn’t sure what “life after cancer” would look like, and I certainly won’t pretend that I’ve gotten all my answers. What has happened, though, is that I am really starting to feel more and more like the “me” that I remember before my diagnosis. There is an easiness about my being that feels both new and familiar, and an energy inside me that is both growing and steady.

There is also a sense of groundedness that is deep and centered and balanced in a way that I never knew could exist in my spirit.

I’ve been able to answer many levels of the questions “How am I the same?” and “How am I different?” I hope I remember to keep asking myself those same questions for the rest of my very long life.

It was exactly one year ago when I called to schedule my mammogram for January. The entire flunk my mammogram, have a sonogram, then a biopsy, then mastectomies, then chemo and blah blah blah cycle began. Now here we are in December and my insides are celebrating that this cycle is really over. December is monumental! December is the capstone! I celebrate December of 2010 as the month I leap out of fear, fatigue, and baldness.

When I look in the mirror, I no longer see the face of cancer. I see the face of a grateful woman who was held up for a year by a devoted husband, an amazing mother, and the best friends and family that anyone could ever dream of. I see hope. I see faith. I see endless possibilities.

Here is my final Hineni!

“I am here with all of my being, physically and spiritually, ready to do what I need to do and fully present in the moment.”

I send you love and light, and once again I humbly thank you for your love and support. I could not have done this without you.

Love to you all,

Sheri Kay, RDH, BS can be contacted at [email protected].

More RDH Articles
Past RDH Issues