Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Paying It Forward

When I was diagnosed with colon cancer, my dear doctor came in my hospital room and gently asked me how I was feeling about the news. Without even thinking, my answer was, "I hope I can use this experience to help others." And since that day almost 4 years ago, that's what I have tried to do.

Whenever someone at church is diagnosed with cancer, I try to contact them and offer support, sharing resources I have. And people in the community often tell me of new cancer patients because of my work with Relay For Life, and I try to contact those people, too, and let them know I'm there for them. I don't mind the task at all, but what does hurt is the fact that I am called on so often. Still way too many people hearing the words, "You have cancer."

I wish I could wave a magic wand and have cancer be erased from the body of each scared, worried patient. Because that is an impossible dream, I will do what I can and help where I can. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wear it with pride!

The weather was cool enough this evening, that I told Bill to drive home from choir without me, so I could walk. The exercise is always good for me! I was wearing a Relay For Life shirt, this year's survivor shirt. When I first became a cancer survivor, I felt a little conspicuous wearing the shirts. Now that I'm almost 4 years out, I feel so proud of my status. I stared that BEAST down and told it to take a hike! So whether my shirt has the word "Survivor" on the back in bold letters, "Happy Birthday is a Victory Song," or "There's no such thing as too many birthdays," I wear it proudly. I hope to inspire others to realize that a cancer diagnosis does NOT have to be a death sentence. It can, instead, be a journey that shows a person what she's made of and leads to a keen appreciation of just how sweet life is.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cancer is killing me (not like you think)

No, I've not had bad news from any doctors. Not about myself, anyway. It seems, though, that every day I discover that someone else near and dear to me has heard those three ugly words, "You have cancer." Or someone gets the sad word that their battle with the beast has gone into round two or three...or four. I'd be happy for a day that I don't hear the word cancer, but I never get one. It's insidious.

I find myself resenting the times when those unaware use cancer phraseology in another context. For instance, "It's like a cancer eating away at my insides." No, it's not. Have you ever HAD cancer? Or the author who discusses a problem "metastisizing." Hmm...not quite the way someone with colon cancer discovers that there are now cancerous cells in her liver or his lungs.

Mostly I find myself not sleeping. That boogeyman called cancer comes calling in the dark of the night. I lie there feeling grateful for an early diagnosis and seeming cure, yet fearful it isn't so. And I lie there listing off those I care about and want God to watch over. And I make mental note of those who have gone to their glory, yet are so sadly missed here on earth.

So, yeah, cancer is killing. Bit by bit, it seems to hurt me a little more. I want it to go away and never come back, but cancer is not a good listener. It seems to not hear my cries. One day. One day...