Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When you hear "those words"

Just like you remember exactly where you were and how you felt during other momentous occasions, the moment when you were told "You have cancer" is seared into your memory.

I had to call my surgeon to get the results of my stereotactic biopsy, and I mustered all of the courage I had to dial the number, bracing myself for the news. When I was told, "I'm sorry, the biopsy showed cancer; but we will get you through this", I didn't think, "I'm going to die", but "What do I have to do to beat this thing?" The good thing is that "cancer" didn't equal "death" in my mindset. And, this is from someone who lost her Father, Aunt, and Uncle to cancer.

The hardest part was when, immediately after receiving my diagnosis, I had to call my husband at work to let him know. I completely broke down and sobbed into the telephone, even though I shed no tears while speaking with my surgeon. I hated to burden him with the news, even though he was more than willing to walk alongside me on my then unknown cancer journey.

People say that you are the sum total of the things that happen to you: I say that you are the sum total of how you respond to the things that happen to you. Having a positive outlook has proven to be vitally important in getting me through two surgeries, post-operative infections, 6 weeks of radiation, many, many scans and MRIs, and the negative effects of my anti-cancer medication.

Having cancer has taught me that I'm a heck of a lot stronger than I would have thought. Also, cancer puts everything in perspective for you: things that were formerly big problems really do pale in comparison, which is a plus. Cancer also makes you realize that your time and energies are limited, and from that moment on, you should concentrate on what is truly important and fulfilling to you. That's another positive aspect of the diagnosis. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009


A shout-out to the folks at Despair.com for the "Adversity" sign; it sums up exactly how I feel about my situation. Truer words were never written, and I prefer to deal with adverse events in my life in a humorous way. Humor is my way of coping with life's dilemmas. If you haven't seen their stuff, check out their website: http://despair.com

Yes, I survived almost drowning at age 13, being run over by a van (now I have something in common with Steven King, besides our terrible eyesight) and I have lived 18 months after being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. However, we're all still on the same path to oblivion, so I prefer to see overcoming these things as pretty ironic. I would much rather be alive, though!

My PCP said that the cancer was just "a bump in the road" (kind of like the van accident, perhaps?), but that road is the one on which we are all traveling.

"No One Here Gets Out Alive" was a great book title, but it's also true. But, I'm very grateful that I'm able to write about it. I'm planning to live a long time, and to die in Maui.