During my first visit to
I knew I was there because I have cancer but the radiology nurse was the first
one to actually use the words “You are here because you have esophageal
cancer.” I think she was afraid I might hit
her when she said it. It was like she
had just slapped me in the face without warning. I had spent the past week reading everything
I could find on the subject and I was ready for what they would tell me, or so
I thought. I handled myself well in the
consultation. I didn’t cry or scream or
even throw things. I listened to the
doctor’s advice, the plan for treatment, the procedure of the surgery,
recovery, after treatment and how it would change my life afterward. I was composed as we talked about what to
expect. I was calm when I explained it
to others during the next days. It
was almost like I was explaining the situation of someone I knew, not my own
diagnosis. UNC Hospital
Then the reality hit me yesterday. I’m not discussing the condition of a friend. This is me, my life, my diagnosis, my cancer, my fight. Cancer is inside of my body and it is trying to take me down. I hear about someone battling cancer almost everyday. It affects everyone I know in some way. When you hear a friend or relative has been diagnosed you hurt for them, you want to help, you say you are sorry and you think you understand……but yesterday I realized I never really understood until it was me.
I am just beginning this battle. The doctor’s have been honest in saying this is going to be a difficult battle. Esophageal cancer is a tough one because you pretty much need your esophagus to live and they are removing mine. I have a long way to go, but in the past week I’ve learned my first lessons from cancer.
25 Things I Never Knew Before Cancer
- Cancer is just a word for something going on in your body. It doesn’t define who you are.
- It is ok to be scared. Cancer is a scary word.
- It is ok to be angry. Cancer can be a bitch and you have to learn to be a bigger bitch.
- People want to help, but you often don’t know how to let them. You have to learn to accept help.
- When you are diagnosed with cancer, your whole family is diagnosed.
- You will find friends and support in people and places you never imagined.
- Some people will disappear and that’s ok.
- The things you worried about the day before you had cancer don’t really matter so much now.
- The people who didn’t like you for whatever past reason don’t really matter now.
- Life doesn’t stop because you have cancer.
- Doctors don’t always agree with each other so you need to use your instincts about your body and ask questions.
- Prayer works, even when others have to pray for you because you are angry with God at the moment.
- Sometimes people ask strange or stupid questions, but they are just curious.
- Sometimes people say strange or stupid things, but they are just confused.
- Anybody can get cancer. Cancer is not picky.
- Everyone makes mistakes, nobody is perfect.
- You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so you’d better get everything out of life you can.
- Life is too short to not take chances.
- You can be replaced at work when you aren’t there, no matter how invaluable you think you are.
- You never know how much you love someone until you realize your time with them may be limited.
- Pathology and ultrasounds usually don’t lie.
- Doctors sometimes struggle with telling you that you have the “C Word”, no matter how professional or smart they are.
- You never know how strong you are until you have to gather all the strength you have to get through a storm.
- You are loved no matter how many times you have felt unloved.
- You can fight harder than you ever thought when you have no other choice. You can beat cancer.
I’m sure there are more lessons to come and that’s ok. I’m learning I can handle much more than I ever imagined because I have the best family, friends and support in the world.