Today is National Cancer Survivors Day, now in its 27th year of celebration.
Two months from now, I’ll be celebrating two years as a two-time survivor. (I know. There are a lot of “twos” in there, eh?)
I could be the poster gal for mammograms. In 2001, my very first mammogram revealed abnormalities which turned out to the ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the right breast. Surgery, radiation and tamoxifen followed that diagnosis. Divorce and dark days of my spirit followed thereafter. What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger, and I found my strength, my spirituality, my bliss and myself once again, more vibrant than ever before.
As a survivor advocate for LiveStrong Day on Capitol Hill – June 2005
In July 2012, I underwent an emergent appendectomy which revealed not only a ruptured appendix but goblet cell carcinoid (GCC) of the appendix. A month later, I was in surgery again for a right hemicolectomy (removal of the right side of the colon) and bilateral oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries).
About a month after second surgery 2013
In both cases, I was fortunate to have talented, caring surgeons and excellent hospital care. I was also fortunate that both cancers were detected in their early stages and that chemotherapy was not indicated.
The overall five-year survival rate for the GCC is not absolutely thrilling, but could be worse. I’m coming up on two years out from diagnosis and really don’t think about it that much. I have mostly good days and even the not-so-good days are not debilitating.
Enjoying time at the Jersey Shore – May 2013
Cancer does not rule my life. Well, it has altered my lifestyle a bit, but not in a highly restrictive way by any means. It’s just the new normal.
When I do stop and think about it . . .
If the GCC makes an encore appearance and I end up with another couple of years or even 12 months . . .
I’m living my dream as a full-time RVer
I share my life with an amazing Scotsman and our wee dog. I have traveled the United States as a child with my parents, on my own and with my husband, and have spent time with Dave in his homeland of Scotland.
Sailing on Loch Ness in 2005
I have had amazing, joyous and profound spiritual experiences as a Reiki Master/Teacher and walking the Red Path. I have met the most amazing people along the way.
I have friends, true friends, scattered across the USA and across The Pond in Scotland. That goes for family, too.
Memories . . . precious, exhilarating, groovy memories of experiences, places and people.
Those are treasures, indeed, but what is the most important is . . . right here, right now. That’s it. Survivor or not, no one is privy to their expiration date on this Earth. I may have three more years, 30 more years or 30 more minutes.
I am certainly no saint. Hell, I’m a middle-aged woman with no ovaries, so you know my hormones go off the scale now and then. Top that off with the fact that I have always been somewhat of an independent free spirit and, well . . . let’s just say my husband has patience. A lot of patience some days.
It is the right here, right now that counts. Living every day as if were your last or at least your last healthy, feel-good day. Cliché, yes, but what a novel way to live.
What a refreshing way to live.
What an empowering way to live.
What a mindful way to live.
That is what I strive to do as a cancer survivor. Not always successful, but my experience as a cancer survivor provides me with a benchmark for living my remaining days.
If you have not done so already, go hug a survivor. Drop them an email just to say you are thinking about them and are grateful for their presence in your life. Better yet, call ‘em up. Stroll down memory lane together for a bit and share some laughs.
Right here, right now.
What does being a cancer survivor mean to you?
I am a Warrior