Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Truth of Reality

Since I learned of my thyroid cancer recurrence, I have been struggling with the reality of it. I was going through my normal scan-xiety because of the testing but I never really thought it would come back. Cancer wasn't on my to do list for the week, year, or even decade...I have kids to raise, a husband to spend time with, floors to clean, laundry to wash, meals to cook, and friends to drink run with!

Like any life altering experience, it always helps to connect with others who have been through it. In 2006, at the LIVESTRONG Summit in Austin, Texas, I met 3 lovely ladies who are also ThyCa Survivors. I was thrilled to not only meet other cut-throats, but young cut-throats at that! It was comforting to know that there were others in my crap filled boat too. I have been chatting with them over Facebook and email, and my friend Jenn, who is a 11 year Survivor, wrote to me:
In this crazy cancer roller coaster my story or my truth is the only thing I have control over, so I do my best at all times to have both feet in reality. That's what brings me comfort, even if it's the fact that I'm not cured.
And that's what I have been trying to do. Get both of my feet into THIS reality, even if it's not one I want to be in. It's MY story and MY truth that the cancer is back. When I was first diagnosed, I found strength (and thus comfort) in learning everything I could about this disease. It wasn't always pretty, but I finally managed back then to get both feet in reality.

So now, even though I didn't get the answers I wanted about my tests, I do want to embrace my truth. My body may never be free of this disease but I will still have a long, productive, joyful, active life. And no matter what Jack Nicholson says, I can handle the truth...because I am a Survivor.

Monday, April 09, 2012

9 years of Surviving

9 years ago today I learned to fight. Then came the realization over the following months that I was stronger than I ever thought.

I was told many helpful things, "this will not be the demise of you" or "it's a very treatable cancer." Good phrases meant to boost your recently dashed hopes. But no one could have prepared me for the number of surgeries that lay ahead. For the grief that would at times feel suffocating. For the isolation that comes with having cancer. For the anger that overpowers your life.

I was blindsided by the diagnosis and then the slew of emotions that followed. It took me months, if not over a year, to be able to truly comprehend how my life had changed. I had all those crazy emotions, but I also learned to enjoy life. To take time to drink my coffee on the porch. To sit back and watch my kids dig in the dirt. To savor a quiet moment with my husband. To let the dishes sit while I take a much needed nap. I also learned to speak up for myself and get involved in my care. To find a new doctor if the current one isn't cutting it. To call as many times as you need until you get answers or copies of your reports.

And now as I am going through many of these emotions again, I am trying to remind myself of what I learned 9 years ago. Much of what I faced was quite difficult but there was some good that came from it as well. And I have to remember that.

9 years ago today I became a Survivor.