*Guest Post by Antoinette Truglio Martin

I come from a glass-half-full upbringing, where there was always a positive spin on life. The weather is partly sunny, a bad haircut grows out, and traffic will eventually end somewhere along the Belt Parkway.

The Cancer

Since 2012, I have been walking around with metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) happens when the original breast cancer mutates, moves on, and metastasizes to organs, bones, or the blood system. There is no cure. It may seem daunting to find a positive spin when it comes to cancer, but I look for those little gifts and perks.  

During my first bout with cancer treatment, I lost weight (I had plenty to spare), and my overtly “blessed” thick hair thinned to a manageable level where it looked like there was a real style.

On treatment days, when I have to admit I have MBC, I pride myself on the fact that I do not need to ask anyone to rearrange their schedules to take me to the C-Center. I make sure I smile and thank all of the nurses, attendants, and my doctors, and make light conversation. It has to be a very difficult job taking care of cancer patients all day long. Before leaving, I always ask how the latest clinical trials are doing, and if I am eligible for any.

Currently, I am well-managed and can truthfully say, “I’m fine.” The monthly protocols I am now on are not too intrusive and the side effects are not debilitating. I look well and I can go about my day with minimal limitations due to the advances science and research has made these past twenty years. I am grateful to the women before me, fellow sisters in this plight, who had endured clinical trials while never being guaranteed positive outcomes. I am fine because I stand on their shoulders.

Making a Bucket List

I feel very entitled to work on bucket list experiences now. I went on a fantastic Camino to Compostela in Spain with my daughter. My husband and I rented an oceanfront beach house on Fire Island for several seasons where friends gathered and played, and sunsets as well as moonrises never got old. Traveling to see my granddaughter walk into her first day of school was an absolute thrill. Just as I cross one venture off, several others are added. Looking forward is key.

Moving Forward and Finding the Positives

I cringe at the term Survivor or Thriver, the latest warrior label given to women diagnosed with this insidious disease. I will not own the cancer or call it mine. It does not get a personal pronoun linking it directly to me. It will not take a starring role in my life story. The cancer is just one chapter in my life.

I am frequently told that I have a positive mindset. I can see a ray of light in the storm. It is not so much a mindset as it is a choice to treat every day as a gift. Gifts bring pleasure and are meant to be shared.

© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2018.

About the Author

Antoinette Truglio Martin is a life-long Long Islander, teacher, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. She is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer—a memoir chronicling her first year battling breast cancer as a wimpy patient. Personal experience essays and excerpts of her memoir were published in Bridges, Visible Ink, and The Southampton Review. Martin proudly received her MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University in 2016. Antoinette had also written the children’s picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup (Albert Whitman and Company), and was a regular columnist for local periodicals Parent Connections (In a Family Way) and Fire Island Tide (Beach Bumming). Her blog, Stories Served Around the Table, tells family tales and life’s musings. She lives in her hometown of Sayville, New York with her husband, Matt, and is never far from her “Everyone” and the beaches she loves. Since being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2012, she strives to not let cancer to dictate her life.

Connect with Antoinette at:

Website: https://antoinettetrugliomartin.com/