It was the shock of my life when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer in November. Me, the healthy one. I had a young cousin who was a super athlete that had leukemia and I thought that would be the biggest surprise of my life. Now, at the tender age of 55, I know quite a few People I Love (PIL from now on to protect their identities just in case they aren’t as outspoken as I am) with cancer. Every single one is a different cancer, and some began as one cancer and ended up as another.
My oncologist suggest I read “The Emperor of All Maladies” and I’m so glad I did. It dispelled so many myths I believed about cancer. This disease is, in fact, many diseases, and the history of fighting this disease is quite an eye-opener. A handful are viruses, but most aren’t. Cancer can morph. It truly is like an alien inhabiting my body. Some of the PIL have survived cancer, but some will not. I don’t know what my future holds, but I’m strong, relatively young, and have plenty of weight to lose. I have an incredible support system. Literally hundreds of people are praying for me. If God still has plans for me, I’ll be around for a while. My first round of chemo was ineffective, but my first grandbaby is coming in September, and I hope to be here. I plan on teaching this whole year, and next year, too. Now I’m on a much tougher regimen, round two. Three treatments and a scan. It is very humbling to see my abdomen lit up like Christmas, but I probably need some humility.
What can I say about having cancer? I appreciate every card, text, and prayer. Every gift, plant, and hug reminds me that I’m not finished yet. I’m not so thrilled with lengthy phone calls, but short ones are nice. Mostly, there are too many “miracle” cures out there that I just don’t trust. If they truly worked, the rich would have them first, and eventually it would trickle down to us poor middle class folks. The government started funding cancer research under President Nixon. He wasn’t all bad. Pain pills are wonderful.
Yes, it’s big money and big business, but my doctors truly care. There are slackers in every profession, but I will never believe there is a widespread conspiracy to keep me sick so they can collect money from my chemo. There are plenty of researchers who put their whole life into killing cancer and freely share their results with anybody who wants it. Am I overly optimistic? Only time will tell. I am thankful for the PIL who are being cured, and sad for those who are suffering and will likely go on to Glory soon. I am sorry for all the times I let a cliche roll off my tongue when I heard somebody had cancer, and thankful for all the times I offered real help including prayers and cash. I’m thankful for those who have done me SO much good, and wish I had done it all better. Pray for your loved ones who are sick, and let them know you have their back. Miracles can happen. I’m staking my life on it.