During one of my many doctors appointments, I asked my nurse, “when are you considered a survivor?” I wasn’t sure if I could call myself that because my cancer is still being treated.
I was informed that one is considered a survivor when they are diagnosed. Interesting concept, I thought. As time passes, I am beginning to see why.
Everyday is a fight. And as long as you’re fighting, you’re surviving. But even with the fight, comes fear. Fear to get another cancer again and again and again.
My oncologist had labs done for genetic testing to find out what caused my cancer. Two weeks after my surgery, my husband and I went for a post-op appointment in her office and I was greeted by one of the nurses in the examination room. I thought she came in to look at my sites and talk about God knows what. By that time, I’d completely forget about the labs that were done and was not expecting my results that they. The nurse came in to tell me that I had a rare genetic mutation called Li-Fraumeni Syndrome that causes cancer; and breast cancer being my first, was just one of them. I stared at her in disbelief, thinking “is there a better way to prepare me for this kind of stuff?!”
She went down the list of the other cancers and blah, blah, blah.
I really thought this was over. I thought my breast cancer would be a bump in the road and all I would have to do at this point was recover from this extremely unpleasant pain in my chest and my inner left arm. Yeah right! Because here I was, still staring at her. My eyes started getting really hot. As much as I tried not to cry, I could help but break down.
My husband began to wipe my tears. I then felt the feeling of shame and embarrassment. I didn’t want this for myself but I definitely did not want this for my husband.
So here comes fear again. Fear of leaving my husband behind. Fear of not being old enough to see my children grow up, or fear of not being able to have children at all.
Although my mind races about these very things, my fear is the reason for my fight; my fight to live a long happy life with my husband; to have children and watch them grow up. And a step further, to grow old and see my grandchildren grow up.
**Message to any fighters reading this post: Please know that there are others who are walking the same path as you. A heavy weight was lifted off of my shoulders when I connected with other women. Many who have not or are not in your shoes may never be able to understand what you are feeling which can cause you to feel alone. Iron sharpens iron. Don’t fight alone. There is power in numbers.