Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just One Year Ago...

One year ago, I knew that something was terribly wrong. My doctor didn't believe me, so I didn't have a diagnosis. I finally changed doctors and on Dec. 1, I heard what I had known in my heart for six months: "You have cancer."

So much has happened in just one year: the radiation, chemo, and stem cell transplant, and also my shift in perspective, awareness, and strength. There have been a lot of highs and lows, but nothing I have been through compares to the pain of telling my parents I have cancer. I can only imagine their fear and sense of helplessness.

Telling friends and family I have cancer was also difficult. I don't know why, but I was completely unprepared for the depth and breadth of their concern and affection. I feel like my feet haven't touched the ground for a year. I have shared some of my life lessons in what I call the "Joys of Cancer." Here are a few more things I've learned.

  • Living "one day at a time" isn't just a cliché. Letting go of yesterday's grudges and refusing to worry about tomorrow really frees your mind and heart to appreciate what life is putting in front of you right this minute.
  • You are the only you, so don't compare yourself to others. Your recovery rate, cancer progression, stamina and attitude are what they are, and it doesn't matter if they are better or worse than anyone else's. We are all different - and that's okay.
  • Be human, be fallible, be vulnerable. That brave mask doesn't fool anybody, but it does force people to stay at arm's length, when you should be reaching for their embraces.
  • You have every right to hope for the best possible outcome. Believe that you deserve it. Let your friends and family share the comfort and joy of hope.
  • Happiness is not a goal, or an achievement. It is an attitude. No one else can make you happy, or give you happiness. Every single day you can choose to be happy. Or not.
Oh, I could go on and on, because I'm so very full of myself and my big ol' bag of Canceriffic Pearls O' Wisdom. There have been a lot of spectacular moments of enlightenment in this crazy fish-eye, compressed-time year. But I'll just close by telling you that Bro 1's magnificent Weber-grill-roasted turkey, and Bro 2's sacrificing several vacation days to help around the Villa, tied for number two on my Gratitude List this year.

3 comments:

Holly said...

LaCoot--I love your cancerific pearls of wisdom. You'll never know how much perspective you have given me to face the dreaded cancer diagnosis (for my husband, not me, although I was just diagnosed with a touch of skin cancer, which isn't nearly so life-altering! :) ) As always, thanks for sharing. Your honesty and attitude rank pretty high on my Gratitude List!

John E. Smith said...

Hi Cranky;

Such a mind altering blog post about lessons learned in the last year.

"You have every right to hope for the best possible outcome. Believe that you deserve it. Let your friends and family share the comfort and joy of hope."

The above quote makes me smile. I too am a hope junkie! Also, I was diagnosed last year during the first week of December. Mine was much quicker and without the drama and neglect you experienced. I look forward to our two-year anniversary.

Be well.

John

La Cootina said...

Thank you both for your support, and kind words, and good wishes. I return them all, gratefully. I never would have imagined my invisible network of internet MM pals would come to mean so much to me.