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5 year lifeaversary

MAliceR's picture
MAliceR
Posts: 98
Joined: Mar 2015

5 years ago today I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. I heard the words "you have cancer" for the first time. I have "survived" 5 years. 

My life has been changed forever by those 3 words. Unfortunately I heard "your cancer is back" a few months after completing the first 8 months of treatment. Then again just 6 months ago.

Over the last 5 years, I have had 3 major surgeries, had organs removed, spliced and diced.  3 minor surgeries, 14 months of chemo, lost my hair, had CT scans, PET scans, ultrasounds, blood tests, pretty much just about every kind of test possible.  I have been diognosed with cancer related PTSD and had months of therapy.  There were days I was so ill I wasn't sure I could make it through the day. I remember lying in bed counting the hours. Telling myself I had just made it through one more hour. I could do this. 

No one goes through aggressive cancer treatments without being changed.  People will tell you how strong you are and how much courage you have, but the truth is, I didn't feel any of those things. Honestly at  times cancer breaks you. There have been times I have been crushed by it all.  But if you want to live, you do whatever it takes. This isn't bravery, it is simply the will to live. You live in the fight or flight mode every minute of every day. 

Like going into battle, this has its emotional consequences. Even when treatment is over, the fear, nightfrights and PTSD triggers stay with you. Living with cancer becomes your new normal. It is called being a cancer survivor. I struggle with that title. To me being a survivor means you have gotten through something that is over. 

Cancer is never over. 

Even if you are fortunate to have had a successful treatment outcome, tests and waiting for results and hoping each twinge and ache or pain you might have isn't a recurrence doesn't end.  You live with the "what ifs" for the rest of your life. 

You learn a lot about yourself and others when you have cancer. Things in life you thought mattered no longer do. You learn that if given the chance you will enjoy life every day. You don't wait for tomorrow. 

You also discover the people in your life that matter. They are the ones who continue to be there for you, embracing you in the hard times and rejoicing with you in the good. You don't have the emotional stamina for people who bring negative drama into your life. You appreciate and value people who enhance your life and meet you halfway.  You love deeper and aren't afraid to say I Love You.

So here I sit today 5 years after my initial diagnosis. The last 5 years, if looked through a cancer lense would seem truly horrible. But that isn't true. During the last 5 years I have retired from a successful career, contracted to teach a professional development program, managed some DIY projects, traveled extensively to Europe, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. I recently celebrated my 61st birthday. Greg and I are embracing life. 

Today is my 5 year lifeaversary.  I am still here! I do not know what next week, month or year will bring. I wake up every day so grateful to be alive. Today I am here. I thank God for the opportunity to live today and every day He gives me. I AM ALIVE! Thank You!

Blessings

MAlice

dtre30319
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2016

Hello MAlice,
  Congrats on your long journey.  I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer two years ago (September 20014).  I did chemo for 6 months and understand your journey.  Every time I have blood work done or see labs results I freak out.  For example, my CEA keeps increasing and its at 3.6.  It has increased every time i have blood drawn every three months. My level was 2.6 and has kept on increasing.  My oncologist says I shouldn't worry but I cant help it.  Also, because of the chemo my liver enzymes have remained slightly elevated.  Im trying not to think of recurrence but its on my mind every day.  I wish you much success and feel free to keep me updated.

nateswife's picture
nateswife
Posts: 65
Joined: Sep 2016

MAlice, Thank you for the reminder of what's important. Your perspective and what you've accomplished in 5 years with cancer is fantastic. 

Cathleen Mary
Posts: 827
Joined: May 2011

Thrive, Alice!  Wonderfully written testimony. thank you.

CM

Phil64's picture
Phil64
Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2012

MAlice, Thanks for sharing your story. And for sharing your faith and optimism in the face of challenges. Love and light to you my friend. 

marbleotis's picture
marbleotis
Posts: 706
Joined: Mar 2012

Hi MAlice - 5 years is just wonderful.  I love reading these posts.  All the best!!!

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