We have been watching the informative PBS special on cancer, CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES by Ken Burns this week. It hits very close to home, obviously, so thought I'd share insights from a person living with the disease.
I'll admit after the first diagnosis three years ago I spent quite a bit of time sobbing, screaming and generally carrying on in a wild woman gone mad kind of way. My legs were pulled out from under me and there was not a place to land so I cried mountains of tears. How could this happen? Why me? And all those other questions you ask God, your friends, and anyone else who will listen. My faithful troops rallied around and supported me through the nine months of the holy terror of surgery, chemo and radiation. But then I was done. No more. I was advised by my oncologist to be vigilant with any body changes and to report them. I remember sitting there half listening to him thinking, "I paid my dues, did what I had to do, now let's get on with living."
I was aware of a possibility of recurrence and in my mind the cancer was "caught early" so I should not have to dwell on what the ugly next step might be. I am not faulting my oncologist. He gave it all he had as far as treatments go, however, he and all the other doctors never know who will be hit again with those nasty spreading cells. It is like losing in the lottery of life--everyone else is the winner and those of us who get the second diagnosis are... well, not exactly losers but looking in, banging on the door from the outside. Statistically 20-30% initial diagnosis will end up with a recurrence. Frightening to think that many.
The second diagnosis came as a complete shock--similar to the first time around but this time it is different. There is no treatment=cancer free scenarios anymore. It is here in my body and is here to stay--forever. Scary and alarming as it is I have a calmer sense going into this diagnosis than the previous one. Yes, there have been tears and rantings and many days it feels like walking on a tight rope--is this back twinge cancer, my stomach is rolling around--could it be cancer, frequent aches and pains from either age or working out too long can set me on a spin of doubt and fear.
On those days self talking reminds me that I do have goals...to live...to be productive... and to find a cure. Cancer will not take those away from me now or in the future. My dukes are up and the fight is on for me and my 155,000 MBC friends as we wind our way through the complexities of this malady. Despite what we hear from the media reports and other voices in our ears, we must never give up.
If you haven't seen the show, tune in--it's still showing--go to thirteen.org and watch CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES.
Knowledge is powerful.
Thanks for reading # 184 of 7777.