Monday, August 17, 2009

What Cancer Cannot Take From You

When you learn that you have cancer, you'll view your life up to that point as "B.C.": "before cancer", and "A.D.": "after diagnosis". Cancer will be your focus for at least the next few months, mentally and physically. It will take over your life during your active treatment, and you will most likely lose part of your body to it. Cancer has co-opted your present, and your future. Your sense of invulnerability has been stolen from you. You have the right to be angry, but you have to work through this, and ultimately realize what cancer cannot take from you.

Long after your active treatment, cancer will steal things from you on a smaller scale: I take my anti-cancer medicine each day as part of a planned five-year course, knowing that it will greatly increase my chances of long-term survival. The associated side effects of the medicine are a daily reminder that I'm still fighting not just the cancer, but weight gain, greatly increased vasomotor episodes, gastrointestinal issues, and lingering fatigue. I have felt at times as if I'm seeing another "me" in the mirror, and it's difficult to remember the tiny, energetic person whom I no longer see there. Sometimes two years in the past ("B.C.") seems like a lifetime ago. 

When I wrote earlier about the cruelty of Alzheimer's Disease, robbing the patient of his/her identity, gradually taking them from their loved ones right before their eyes, with the only relief being certain death, I said that Alzheimer's is a far crueler fate than cancer; and I still believe it.

I know this beyond any doubt: I am still "me", and cancer is not going to change my personality, or make me focus on what I have lost, instead of what I have gained from this experience. My sense of humor is still intact. I still find joy in each day; I feel very fortunate to be alive, and well. I still have my smile, and I will never lose it! How would I ever have known how strong I could be, and how much I could endure? So, yes, it has taken something from me, but I have found a way to appreciate what it has given to me, also.

We are all tested in one way or another; you will be amazed at what you can overcome, and how powerful your will to live really is. Cancer can take your essence away from you, but only if you allow it. I'm not going to let that happen.  


  1. A close friend of mine died for stomach cancer
    last week, when he was diagnosed six months ago the mental hit he got took away all the force he could had.

  2. I am so sorry to hear about your friend. You brace yourself to hear your diagnosis, but it is a huge blow to your psyche. It really is devastating and overwhelming. You are at the bottom, and you have to make it back up again. Stomach cancer (which my Dad died from) usually doesn't have a good prognosis. What a terrible thing.

    One thing that I do know about your friend is that he was very lucky to have you in his life. You will be in my thoughts.