Friday, April 30, 2010

Cancer is not a gift

Cancer is not a gift. Cancer is a major event for all who are diagnosed but it brings with it the chance for growth. As hard as treatment can be, many cancer survivors have told me that the experience led them to make important changes in their lives. Many say they now take time to appreciate each new day. They also have learned how to take better care of themselves and value how others care for them. Others draw from their experience to become advocates to improve cancer research, treatment, and care. The two most important things that I've learned as a breast cancer survivor: 1) I had to be involved in my treatment and care; and 2) I can't go back to life and business as usual. I have changed. I feel as if I have faced the enemy called death and lived to tell about it. This may sound melodramatic and/or delusional but it has given me a different perspective on my life and what really matters.
For the most part, my life before cancer was business as usual. I was going about life with my husband, raising Hannah, and living under the illusion that I had all the time in the world to reach my life goals. Most of my activities focused around taking care of others; in fact, I wasn't even on my own list of things to do and people to care for. Then in August 2009, a lump appeared during my breast self-exam and cancer was confirmed in September 2009; the diagnosis was like a brick in the face. The diagnosis of cancer shattered the illusion that I was immortal. Still, the most surprising side effects of cancer is that it has given me more courage than I ever thought possible. My life after cancer is more courageous, more honest and fuller than my life before. After all, time flies when you're having cancer!

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