Some days, July 10, 2007 seems long ago; but, even now, I can acutely remember exactly how I felt at the moment I found out that my life would be changed forever.
What are my thoughts on this 2-year anniversary of being a person with cancer?
First, I'm truly thankful for being alive, and for the caring and expertise of my physicians, techs, nurses, and medical assistants. I literally wouldn't be here on this earth without you, and I am forever grateful.
I now know that I'm an extremely strong person, mentally, emotionally, and physically; far more than I ever would have realized prior to my illness. I wouldn't wish what I have gone through on anyone; but I am heartened by the fact that I was able to face it, and persevere. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger; or to put it another way, you will discover your real level of inner strength when you can endure things that you never imagined you could.
Things which formerly would have seemed like a problem now are very insignificant; and things which would have terrified me no longer seem frightening. Cancer has a way of resetting your perspective on the world. As I have written elsewhere, you realize that life is truly about "the little things".
The unfairness of Fate is not easy to accept sometimes. Before this experience, I had never been seriously ill. While I know I'm lucky to have been healthy for so long, it was a major blow to my psyche to have this happen. You feel betrayed by your body somehow. I exercised religiously, never smoked, had good health habits, and boom! - this happened.
My greatest joy in life is the unfailing love and support of my best friend, who is also my husband. He cared for me when I was ill, and he is my hero and protector. When I look my worst, he still tells me that I'm beautiful. There is no greater love that I could ever hope to have. All that I want is to grow old with him, and I believe that I will get my wish.
There are now many other people in my life who have opened their hearts to me. Everywhere I go, I am constantly reminded of the love that I have been given, which is an amazing thing; this is one of the "pluses" of my situation.
I don't fear death, and I can't imagine wanting to live forever; that seems like a terrible fate to me. The important thing is to see beauty in each day, and to live in the present.
I don't worry about my cancer returning; I'm concentrating on what's happening right now, and on my healthy future. Two years later, I am in a very good place.
I have vowed to take something negative and turn it into something positive.
I know that even if I become ill again, cancer may take my life, but it will never claim my smile; because then it will have truly won, and I won't ever allow that to happen.