Four years ago this past Wednesday, I was lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by family. I was in great pain from a colon resection, which doesn't sound nearly as rough as it is. It's not for sissies, I'll tell you that!
The good part of that day was when the doctor told me that he thought he "got it all." Believe me, if you have any kind of cancer in your body, those are words you want to hear. I clung to them and prayed they would be true.
I had to wait a few days for the pathology report to come back saying that my lymph nodes looked clean. Whew! I was ready to go home that day, and I was carrying hope in my heart!
I didn't realize then that the "courtesy visit" I was going to pay to an oncologist would turn out not to be my last. No, so far I have not been found to have anymore cancer, but I do go every 3 months to have lab work done, and I see the oncologist every 6 months. The oncology clinic is a place that made me cry on my first visit, and I still feel tense when I step off that elevator, but I have gotten used to it.
I'm sure I will never not worry when I feel sick or something seems to be not functioning well in my body, but I AM more relaxed about things than I was in the beginning. A little time and space will do that for you.
One thing that will always hold true is this. I spent Thanksgiving week 4 years ago getting an unexpected diagnosis, followed quickly by surgery and my entry into the oncology world. So every year for the rest of my life, Thanksgiving will be a time that I will give an extra prayer of thanks for the gift of life.