How, now, am I different? What has changed in my world? Since cancer.
Before I was diagnosed, I lived in a world of oblivion. I knew about cancer of course. I had lost friends to cancer, but it was still this vague disease that only -other- people faced. To me, it was- yet it was not, real. Even as I watched friends fight, even as family succumbed to the disease, I still didn’t comprehend fully what it was all about.
It hurt to lose people I knew to cancer. I felt badly for the families of the fighter and especially for those who lost a loved one to cancer. And yet, the emotions that I felt then were all surface emotions. They were real, they just weren’t deep.
Then, I had my very first mammogram. I was warned since it was my first that I might be called back as they had nothing to compare with. I half listened, dealt with the embarrassment and discomfort then left as quickly as possible. When the call came that I had to go back, I was nearly cocky in my attitude. Of course I didn’t have cancer. No one in my family, to my knowledge, had ever had breast cancer. The day I went back, the day that second set of images were made, was the day that those emotions began to become real and deep. When the cockiness began to fade and a foreboding took its place. When the, “maybe……” began to creep into my thoughts.
Jumping past all of the doctor visits and questions, blood work and pre-op work, jumping the needle biopsy and surgical biopsy to the day I sat in the examining room and watched that surgeon walk in with back up help behind her, I really already knew what she was going to say. Her, honestly concerned expression and the words ‘you have cancer’ were no surprise. I do believe that I did however surprise her when I told her, ‘You know what it is. You know where it is. Take care of it.’ Back up left the room as the surgeon and I got down to business of getting me healthy.
Jumping again past the surgery and the following treatments and how all of that had me feeling to post cancer me.
While I have always been the type of person who loved the solitude and peace that is found in long walks in the woods, that very thing took on a whole new meaning. Even though the radiation treatments left me weak, I knew I needed exercise so I walked. Walking is healing. Especially when your (my) faith tells you that you are not alone. Every walk brought a new surprise somewhere along the way. Even though I walked the same paths every time, there was always something different waiting. A different flower, an interesting insect, the creek may be flowing deeper, the raccoon young might show up, I might see butterfly or praying mantis or something the likes I had never seen before. And I came to appreciate the small things. The tiny blue flowers that are among the first wildflowers to appear in spring. The brief touch of the breeze on my face, the bright, clear, blue Carolina sky. The music of the woods that floating on a scale of peace. I’ve always been this type, but now.. now that feeling has increased dramatically. I can spend hours walking along the paths and creeks in the woods, listening to the sounds, seeking them out. Appreciating that I was given more time to be here, to enjoy the gifts of nature that I find here.
The dirt road that I live on, that I grew up on is in my blood. Someone once told me that they bet red clay flowed in my veins in place of blood. Memories of growing up here, riding bikes, walking barefoot, enjoying life as only the young and innocent can. Until cancer. Cancer brought back all of the sweet memories and little things that made such a big difference. Feeling the red mud squish up between your toes, hearing the owl call or the woodpecker drumming on a nearby tree. Feeling the damp grass underfoot and smelling that fresh cut grass smell. Finding a place under a shade tree to sit and reflect.
watermelon, or any fresh fruit.
Being able to hold the children of my nieces and nephew. Feeling the weight of their young bodies, listening to their giggles and even hearing them cry. Feeling the love of family swell and grow.
Moments of laughter. Life is not serious. Yet we take it so seriously. We fight to get this or that or the other thing and then think that those aren’t enough so we start trying again and collecting.. while if we’re not careful we miss out on the really important things like a few moments or hours or days with family. Being close and sharing laughter and good times.
What is different? Emotions now run much deeper. When I hear that someone has been diagnosed with cancer, I really, deeply hurt for them. I pray for those diagnosed, those struggling and their families. I feel for them in ways that I didn’t before. I understand. Now that I’ve been there, even though to a lessor degree than some, I understand. When I laugh, its from deep inside and it flows freely, just as tears do when they come. It takes more than it ever has to make me angry. There isn’t time enough to be wasted on that. I have a greater appreciation for the small things. The things that many people don’t even notice, I see and I hold close in thought and memory. A butterfly dancing on a summer breeze, a grass snake slithering past. the feel of cold creek water splashing on your feet and legs. A field of wildflowers or clouds of many shapes drifting past. Simple things that now make a much greater impact.
Friends and family are treasures to be cherished. To be held tightly at all times, understanding that at times something may be said that is hurtful, but was probably unintentional and will fade away anyway. Being close to family is important to me.
Being Healthy as I never was before.
I am a different person since my cancer and yet I am the same person. I’m a little older, the hair is a bit more grey while the inside has changed the most. Before I floated on the surface of the lake of life, not really allowing emotions to take hold. Now they do and I feel more human than ever before. To feel, to experience emotions deeply, is to live.
How, now, am I different? I’m better. I’m more human than I ever was. And I have a cause, help find a way to defeat cancer because even for those like me who are different, who are better, there are still way too many who are losing the fight and that is unacceptable.
(We are still accepting canned goods for the Luminary Bags. We are still accepting orders for Luminary Bags. We are still signing up Survivors for dinner, signing up teams as well..We need your time, your talents, your presence. Feel free to donate–