There are so many things that I didn’t know when diagnosed with breast cancer almost a year ago.

I didn’t know that things would start so fast; the visits, the appointments, the doctors.

I didn’t know how well acquainted I would become with needles – so many needles that I lost track. The more months that past, the more needles I knew, and with each time, the bite became a little bit worse.

I didn’t know I would have 11 surgeries in a year – and that I would know anesthesiologists by name. Nurses, aides, housekeepers and nutrition staff all became my friends – and shook their heads, sad that I had returned to the hospital again, and again.

I didn’t know I would lose friends – that people would walk away without a glance back. Scared, mad, frightened by the diagnoses? I will never know why.

I didn’t know that I would face fear, anger, death and pain, coming at me from all sides, sometimes joined together.

I didn’t know about the unrelenting pain.

I didn’t know if I would live.

I didn’t know about the friends I would make – those new people that filled my life with joy. Or the friends that would stay and brave the journey, and help to brace for the impact of each physical and emotional blow.

I didn’t know I would gain perspective, and understand more about the strength that can grow from the depths of hell. Or how from the darkest days come the brightest light.

I didn’t know how people would rally and support, lift up and carry my family for weeks on end. That those I knew a lot, and those I knew a little, would all make sure that my home was filled with unbreakable support and love.

I didn’t know it would be so hard.

And I didn’t know it would be so amazing.

There are so many things that I didn’t know, and so many things that I am happy that I found out. And without breast cancer, I would never have known.