Cancer is a scary word.
The experience of cancer is something you get to define. I did.
Was I scared? Yes.
Was I pissed? Hell yes.
Was I sad? Yes
Did I think I was dying? Yes
I just didn’t stay with any of the above emotions or beliefs for long.
I went back to laughter- you know what makes you laugh 🙂
I reached out to friends- Someone wants to come sit with you.
I brought in music- It can change your mood.
I acted on my faith- Do what makes you feel safe.
Is your life going to change? Yes, but that is a change is a constant, so just take a big breath and get ready for a new kind of ride.
For starters, the treatment you choose is personal and has to with what YOU want and how YOU want it.
Nonetheless, let me say this:
Your hair, your breasts and your ability to have children do not define you. You are more than your looks and have more to offer this world than children.
I am not going to go into the specifics of my treatment drugs, or multiple surgeries.
I do want to cover three main points.
– My C
– What leaving C behind looked like for me
– Some unwarranted advice
I dealt with my two cancers within twelve months, which resulted in my hysterectomy and my bilateral mastectomy + chemo. I say MY cancers because they were only mine. No one will ever have my cancer or have the surgeries and chemotherapy, sickness, pain or happiness and sadness that I had and had to overcome or embrace. They are part of who I am and my understanding of them is now linked to my person.
Through my experience, I was never alone. As the perfect accompaniment I had laughter, lots of laughter, sometimes sprinkled with tears but it was joyous belly slapping laughter. My best friend Bianca redesigned the torture of shaving my head by enjoying the various styles the cutting of hair provided, this was decorated with clothes sent from my Luzi – military wear because, yes I look like Demi Moore when my head is shaved… these same friends made me “get my groove back” repeatedly through chemos because women, wth, I, love to feel pretty. I needed to feel pretty.
Leaving C Behind
There is a difference in being cancer free, and being healed. Cancer is not just about the disease, because of all the pieces that break off in the process of healing. You will have a choice to fear death more than love life. Choose the latter. – My journey was not just mine, it was hard for people that love me but there is a reason they loved me through it, and still, do. – I have survived! I have had partners, and SEX!, and LUST! and left a lot of the things I thought my cancer and my scars would limit. Don’t let what you think limit you! You are always you!
Realize life is ever-changing. Nothing will ever stay the same. Our problems are only dots in an infinite chain of events. We get to be in the world for a limited amount of time and wake up every morning to make the choice to be happy or sad. Embrace every moment you have, follow your dreams now, live. You will never get this exact moment back again. We can plan as much as we want, but we don’t really have control over what happens- that dotted line is not a connect the dots, it isn’t morse code, they are little bumps in the road that can help us take one direction or another or just make everything halt.
Let those bumps awaken you.
Don’t let anything or anyone halt your movement forward for more than just a second to reassure yourself you are still you.
This blog post is a rewritten speech given in 2013 in front of an American Cancer Society Fundraiser. If you have any specific questions or would like details of any part of my experience please make a comment and I will write a post.