Life After Cancer
3 wks post chemo, walked 3.1 miles for OC awareness
I think of my life now as time spent Before the Cancer diagnosis (BC) and After the Cancer Diagnosis (AC). After finishing my frontline chemotherapy treatment, reviewing my recent cat scan and tumor marker, I was declared No Evidence of Disease (NED). This is what anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer wants to hear. This is the moment in time when I have officially marked my life After Cancer (AC) beginning. Some call this watershed moment, “crossing the chemo finish line”. With it comes a whole new set of physical and emotional challenges. While going through surgery and chemotherapy, I was just trying to survive. I had many moments when I thought I was dying or at least it felt like I was dying. I wanted to raise the white flag, throw in the towel, quit. Now that I’m done with this part of the journey, I’m trying to get my bearings.
Regain my bearings relative to what? Not my life Before Cancer (BC). I cannot use that as a point of reference. I’m a changed person. And, my life AC is just beginning to unfold and I’m not quite sure what it’s going to look like from this point on. It’s as if someone handed me a new script halfway through the movie production and gave me no time to read it let alone memorize my new lines. So, here I am completely improvising my way through hoping I’m getting it “right”.
There are wonderful resources available to help me along the way: books on survivorship, support groups, and mentor programs. And, for that, I am grateful. Yet, just like every cancer patient’s path is unique to the individual, so is the path taken living after cancer. For example, now that the heavy chemotherapy is done and my body is starting to heal, I’m grappling with the possibility of long-term side effects. I won’t know for some time if this will come to fruition. I’m speaking of permanent neuropathy in my hands and feet, and GI tract changes for example. Then there is the emotional toll of a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment. Nothing like a cancer diagnosis to make you stare death right in the eyes. And, learning to live my life After Cancer, means living with the fear of cancer recurrence and not letting it consume me.
I do know this. I choose to believe that getting this diagnosis happened for a reason. And, it’s my job to create the meaning and to use that meaning for the greater good. For those who know me, I was a passionate person about giving back Before Cancer. Well, now that I’m learning to live After Cancer, let’s just say there’s a fire under my ass when it comes to “Giving Back and Paying it Forward”.
So, what’s your watershed moment in life? And, what does it mean to you?