“Cancer is not a battle that we win or lose. It is not our fault or a sign of weakness. We are not responsible for our cancer outcomes. The crapshoot of cancer and recurrence can NOT be controlled. Celebrate yourself for each time you, despite all the trauma of cancer, treatment, and the mindfuck of “survivorship”, choose to love, live, lust, laugh… We are not a success story based on our cancer progression or not. We succeed when we are courageous enough to keep walking forward even with missing parts, severe pain, addled brains, and broken hearts.” ~Dr. Erica D. Bernstein
These profound words by Erica Bernstein really hit home with me. I’ve been in remission for over three years. The more time that goes by, the less I think about cancer. But I will never forget what the journey was like. Whether it’s a cancer survivor’s story on the news or hearing about a friend newly diagnosed, I seem to be reminded quite often of what it was like. Yesterday, I was with a friend who just found out that she had cancer. She was so scared and cried as she talked about her fears. I got chills as she shared about it. Her battle is just beginning. She will know more about it tomorrow. I have been keeping her in my prayers.
Listening to her took me back to that initial fear and racing thoughts I had when the doctor told me that my tumor was malignant. I didn’t know how to process the words. I couldn’t believe it. But deep down, I had a sense of serenity and I knew that I would survive. I connected with that power. I re-discovered my courage and strength. I kept walking forward. There were times when I wanted to wave the white flag and give up, but I kept walking forward. Through the doctors appointments, treatment, medicine, tears, nausea, depression, physical weakness, and more, I got to the other side.
Cancer changed the direction of my life. I am grateful for the experience because it led me to where I am today. It made me aware of how strong of a woman I am. It gave me a chance to get in touch once again with what matters in life. And I hope that my friend finds the gifts that I found. I pray that she connects with her strength and is courageous enough to keep walking forward.