A Humorous Look at the Bright Side of Cancer...
And There Is One

Cancer Survivorship & Survivor’s Guilt

April 3, 2019

Cancer Survivorship-6

April 3, 2009

April 3, 2019

Today marks the ten-year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, the day some strange doctor—not my regular one—told me about ten times in a thick accent, “You have advanced cancer.”

The picture on the left was taken three hours later, right before my family’s scheduled road trip to Angel’s Camp, California.

I thought for sure I would die within six months; maybe with a little luck, I’d make it to Christmastime. God had other plans.

Ten years. I can hardly believe it.

Not only am I alive, I have a good life: a wonderful husband who stuck with me through thick and thin—cancer was definitely one of the thin spots, I must say—and three great children who make me proud on a daily basis.

On top of that, I have countless friends, friends who drove me to my chemotherapy appointments, friends that were there for me when I wanted to quit, friends that were there for me when other situations in my life tried to knock me down.

I’ve been grateful to be part of a church family that has held me up over these past ten years, scraping me off the floor way more than once.

I’m going to continue to live my life, happy and content with every extra day I am given.

 

By |April 2019|Cancer Survivorship & Survivor's Guilt|

July 21, 2016

Cancer Survivorship-5

Infusion Services Authorized Parking PermitBecause of my hyper state, I’ve been cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. I found this in a huge box of old papers. I must say, it sent a shiver down my spine.

One thing I know for sure: I haven’t seen an infusion nurse for years, so if that isn’t a reason to own my cancer survivorship, I don’t know what is.

I think I will throw this puppy on top of the bonfire I plan on having this weekend. I don’t plan on ever using that parking permit again.

By |July 2016|Cancer Survivorship & Survivor's Guilt|

January 13, 2016

Cancer Survivorship-4

January 8, 2016: "Writing Your Story"

January 8, 2016: “Writing Your Story”

The meeting started promptly at seven. I was the keynote speaker, but I was not set to start my PowerPoint until 7:40.

I wasn’t nervous at all. Mainly, I was thankful that I had not overslept, considering I had set my alarm for 5:30 that morning.

The women went around the room introducing themselves and explaining what they did for a living. The woman behind me cheerfully said that she worked in the insurance industry. Gulp. I slid down in my chair a few inches and tried not to think of the slide in my presentation that showed my strong dislike for having worked in the insurance industry myself for eighteen years.

It was my turn.

I tried to explain to this group of women I had just met that when a person is handed a diagnosis of Stage III breast cancer at the age of 42, everything changes.

Why had I worked in insurance for over 18 years? I certainly didn’t have this big dream to do so when I was a kid. “Hm. I think my life’s goal will be to listen to people complain about their auto rates all day long and blame me when their coverage lapses because they didn’t pay their bills. That sounds like fun.”

In fifth grade, I wanted to grow up and write books. Period.

Was I happy with my life before that cancer diagnosis? You bet. While I hated insurance, I loved my boss and my co-workers. I was married to a great guy and had three healthy children. And yet, there was something missing. Where was that passion I had back in school when my fifth grade teacher read such wonderful stories to the class? I wanted to be one of those authors so that I could inspire others with my own writing.

I guess there is nothing like a death sentence staring you in the face to make you get your butt in gear and accomplish your life’s mission.

That’s what I tried to explain to these women.

Of course, after I achieved my lifelong goal of publishing a book, I thought I would die soon thereafter. The doctors pretty much said so. But, I guess God had other plans. Go me.

 

 

 

By |January 2016|Cancer Survivorship & Survivor's Guilt|

December 9, 2015

Cancer Survivorship-3

August 12, 2015 at the University of Puget Sound

August 12, 2015 at the University of Puget Sound

I had just finished presenting “Marking Milestones” for my afternoon session at the Pierce County Cancer Survivorship Conference when the sturdy gentleman at the back of the room stood up and proceeded to tell his story:

“My milestones: In 1919, I was born. During World War II…”—here, he mentioned so many medals, I couldn’t keep them all straight—“…In 1943, I married the love of my life. In 1950, we adopted our Persian beauties. In 1961, got cancer. In 1975, had second bout with cancer….” My favorite part of the whole story was when he plunked his prosthetic leg on top of the wooden writing platform in front of him and announced, “I am alive.”

I wanted to run up to this brave man and give him a hug. Instead, I praised him profusely and wondered anew at how this disease affects so many different people from so many different walks of life.

By |December 2015|Cancer Survivorship & Survivor's Guilt|

December 9, 2015

Cancer Survivorship-2

August 12 at the Puget Sound Cancer Survivorship Conference

August 12, 2015 at the University of Puget Sound.

I spoke at the Pierce County Cancer Survivorship Conference this past August. You may remember that I also spoke for this group in 2013 with my usual flair for the dramatic.

When I first got the email asking if I would speak, I cancelled my vacation plans and said yes, I would be happy to come and give a presentation. Then, I proceeded to spend the next several weeks tweaking and tweaking my slide show and sweating it out: What would I say? What words of inspiration could I possibly have for all of these strangers that would be signing up for my class?

I was still dealing with extreme survivor’s guilt; so many people around me had died from cancer and I hadn’t. Somehow, life didn’t seem fair. I remembered my Nottingham grade (a diagnostic tool that measured the prognosis and severity of my disease) from 2009. It was not pretty. The surgeon informed me that I had a score of “8 out of 9” or “9 out of 9.”

And that’s when I knew what I had to say. I was supposed to die… and I didn’t. People that attended this conference—after one of the worst experiences of their lives—needed to know that there was hope. A bad test doesn’t always define the outcome. I was still alive, despite the odds, and I was going to shout about it from the rooftop, well, okay… from the front of the room.

By |December 2015|Cancer Survivorship & Survivor's Guilt|