The first time it happened it was just a phone call while I was sitting at my desk at work. The words made my breath catch and the world go a little dark “They found cancer cells”.
The second time it happened I was ready, I had always assumed it would come back and that it would be a more difficult situation. I remember the first appointment with my new oncologist, he walked into the room with my folder, it was at least four inches thick and he hadn’t even met me yet. He introduced himself and after the preliminaries he said “in circumstances like this we usually discuss palliative care”. I took a beat and then replied with the words that set the tone for our relationship, “that’s not something I’m interested in, I want it gone.”.
That was in 2014 and my doctor and I still have a mutual understanding, he does everything he can to keep me alive, and I do the same. The third time I heard the words I don’t think I even blinked. I’ve gone through 7 years of chemo therapies, I don’t even remember how many different meds we tried, a clinical trial, a tumor ablation, stereo-static radiation therapy, and I am still here. Not only am I still here, I am enjoying every moment of my life.
People with long term cancer always say cancer changes you. Sometimes it’s for the good, sometimes it is for the bad. Before my first diagnosis in 2011 I had often wondered if my personality would change in a crisis situation. I was a look for the silver lining, glass half-full, treat others well because it’s the right thing to do, everything will work out Pollyanna. Would I suddenly become bitter and sickly? The Bill Maher bitterness wrapped in a bible quoting mid-westerner plain speaking mean face?
Not going to happen. I don’t think my base personality changed even one little bit. I didn’t suddenly start believing in God or look for the reason that this great tragedy had befallen me. Ever fiber of my being knew that this was just a fluke, a cell that had mutated for one of many reasons and my body wasn’t fast enough to kill it off before it had a chance to start splitting and multiplying creating a whole mass of mutated cells. I hadn’t done some great wrong in this life or a previous one that was coming back to teach me a grand lesson.
I never got bogged down in the why me mentality, I always thought why not me? It’s a myth to believe we have control or that a great power up there decides everything from whether we live or die, to whether your child gets an A on a test. I am just a random person who got a random disease that is becoming more and more prevalent. I don’t believe that when I die, hopefully in about 40 years, that I will go to a beautiful place filled with the people who have gone before me and have no more pain or angst. I believe that this is it. This is my life and the only one I get so I will enjoy it for every second that I can.
I do not lament my losses of health or wealth because I have thousand other things that make me happy. Too fatigued to get up and clean the house? Oh no, I guess I will stay in bed curled up with my animals and trash tv and my tablet. Do you know how many zombie apocalypse books there are still to read? I eat well most of the time, I get some exercise when I can and I have a life that is amazing and beautiful and filled with love.
Some people hear they have a life threatening disease that will require effort and discomfort to combat and they sit down in their chair and do not want to hear anymore. I understand and I empathize but I think there are better options. Learn all you can, keep your mind and body active, rejoice and be thankful for every bag of poisonous medicine that gets dripped into that metal port embedded into your chest. Embrace all of the people in your life.
My hope is to document some of the stories of my last ten years living with cancer. This is my jumping off point. -TM
About the Creator
Vegetarian/Mostly Vegan, Holistic Nutritionist,cat loving, Stage IV cancer ninja 💜 (stg 3-2011 stg 4-2014) Chemo for life
I write so I don’t scream.
Not a fan of taking anything too seriously
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