“You have cancer” are powerful words that are nearly impossible to forget even when it’s all over. Though that’s exactly what I said when I found out: So WHAT?
It was December 6, 2013 when I had the last chemo and this body is feeling great again. But the thought of it is right there in the back of my mind and it doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself it’s gone, there’s this voice inside that says “well, maybe”. So, for the time being, I will continue to live life as I have for years: happy and grateful to be here and making each day worth it by sharing my spirit and learning from others.
The very first thing I told everyone I came across with, including the doctor, was: “please, don’t call it mine. It’s not my lump nor my cancer nor my chemo. I didn’t buy any of it nor asked for it so none of it is mine”.
Now, if you’re reading this, you might have someone in your life undergoing this experience and already know that every chemo is some sort of a hellish hope. One wonders whether it is working or not. And I used to touch the lump every day to realize, much to my surprise, that it was shrinking fast. Yes, I was surprised as cancer is not a new word in my family’s vocabulary. It shrunk to the point where there’s like a hole where it used to be.
The doctor asked me what my secret was, as I also went about it with a smile on my face, and all I could think of was that I couldn’t care less about cancer, chemo or side effects -like the hair loss, fatigue or wrinkles- that come with it.
Now, I didn’t know why this had happened (aside from the fact that it’s in this body’s genes, of course) plus I didn’t really care …but those around me did. So I began wondering about what I should say or do with this experience to turn all of it into a positive thing and help everyone realize that it wasn’t the end of the world… when it hit me. I knew why this was happening to my body. Yes, to my body not to me ‘cuz these things don’t happen to us, they happen to our bodies.
The memory of an experience a few years back hit me like lightning. My 6 year old nephew had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s and prognosis was not good. And I hated seeing everyone so sad and bringing that “you poor little thing” look on their faces when they visited him that I decided to tell my brother how I believed that happiness could heal and that it was important to be hopeful and leave the frowns at the door. Smile, I said.
– The day you get cancer you can come tell me about how happy you are with the news!, he said, in what I thought was the most hateful tone I’d ever heard from anyone.
Well, I did get it. I got cancer and, much to everyone’s surprise, I was not sad at all! You see, I believe that if we die, we win and if we don’t, we win too!
It was hard for some, especially my family, to realize that I was for real. That I was walking the talk and that this thing called cancer was nothing compared to what was inside me. A powerful, energetic spirit that would not make her life difficult just because of cancer. This was something my body had but I didn’t. I’m energy so how could energy be sick?
This body has gotten me to this day. To the right here and now that I love so much so how on earth could I be unhappy with the thought of it ending… or the thought of it not.
Even when I came back from the hospital with no breasts, I was grateful to be able to come home to my husband and those who love me and I love back. Yes, with no hair, no breasts and such dry skin that made me look years older in just months, but I was still here. This body was -and is- still taking me places, meeting new people and touching hearts.
And that’s all that matters. For how long? Who cares! I’m alive now!