August of 2004 started me on a journey of scary discovery, surgery, chemotherapy, eighteen months of remission, return to scary discovery, surgery, chemotherapy and remission once again. Over a month of no cancer and good health returning. I never expected to become a cancer patient again. The scare in my twenties was more than enough. I didn’t expect to become the friend, surrogate daughter, mother, aunt to other cancer fighters. But that has become part of my journey these last six years.
It all started with my own cancer diagnosis by Dr. Hurst and Michaels at a routine “lady exam”. I laugh now but I was sad to think that all my “lady” problems might just be the beginning of menopause . Later after the cancer was confirmed I cried just wishing I could go back and have my share of “menopause.
I should have expected the cancer as there were and are many women in my family tree who have also taken this journey. I will say in my defense that most of these women were in their late”50” when they were diagnosed.
I thought at the time in 2004 no worries I have nothing to be concerned about, Right? I had had no symptoms that cancer had struck again. As if cancer ever really gives you a real sign!
“ HEY STUPID HAD SO MUCH FUN LAST TIME SAVED UP MY MONEY FOR A RETURN PRAFORMAMCE! IF IT ALL WORKS OUT I’LL JUST BE HERE FOR A LIMITED ENGAGMENT!!!
I was so arrogant in my thoughts until a few days later sitting in the office of a oncologist that Dr. Michaels had recommended I heard those words “YOU’VE GOT IT!”?
Those careless word from a doctor I would see only once more throw me into a spin. My life was thrown upside down. The change was so complete that every thought I had from that moment began with, “NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER”.
I started a journal that was titled “CANCER SUCKS”. It became my “NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I’M GRATIFUL FOR". . . journal. Some of those entries made there way to my blog and e-mails.
As I wrote in that first of many journals I was not sure of my destination. I met Dr. Sherrie Smith and through her Dr. R J Udalle. They became my lighthouse, my beacon in this storm.
Those words written in a journal have become more than simple recordings of my own expedition. They have become the thoughts of others who have shares this journey of cancer with me.
I think of these word as not my own alone. These journals have become for me a common journal for all who must make this journey.
It became a way for me to say “you all have to walk that lonely valley by yourself”. I also realized that this was a paradox for we all need companionship for this journey.
I am on a journey , it is a trip of individual steps. I have learned to live in the moment while casting my thoughts and dreams to the future. Somedays only the moments could be visualized. Often it seemed minute to minute.
And so my life for a time became divided into categories that only I or maybe another cancer patient could understand. For a time there was no beginning or end. There was just the journey inch by inch, mile by mile, day by day… and so on.
The changes this journey have brought to my life where and are huge and at times overwhelming.
These changes brought great potential for meaning and enlightenment. Like the small changes in the egg as the chick peeks its way free of the shell.
It was on my birthday they cut the first of many tumors from my body. It was on another special day when I wrote my first entries in the “NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I’M GRATIFUL FOR” journal. I read all those words often. I have not changed a word of them. I have not made myself look more heroic or sympathetic. I have left them as they were.
When ever I would or do think what have I done, or what did I do to cause this I read those words. Words written when I was sick and tired from chemo and just sick of being tired.
They have helped me to not yield to the temptations of self pity. They have time and time again lifted my spirit. In their pages I have found only inspiration to continue my journey. Those page have been the salvation for a scared and lonely child, girl, woman…. The person I have become.
My story has not ended an those journals still have empty pages to fill.
NOW THAT MY CANCER IS GONE . . .
The story continues. . . .