The first Sunday in June is National Cancer Survivor Day. I first heard about it through Facebook when Lynn Kelley posted a photo from a get-together in California. August McLaughlin “embellished” this photo when I had a double boobectomy (mastectomies) in 2013.
Four thoughts hit me in this order:
1. Hello fabulous California friends! I hope to see you soon.
This photo was taken when I met up with these amazing writers and blogger friends on a California trip back in 2012. It brought back very fond memories. They, along with many others, gave me tremendous boob support while going through my surgeries. My son, Kelly, is moving out to attend music production school, so I ‘ll be spending a lot more time in Los Angeles. Sorry Kelly, but Dad and I plan to couch surf at your place. Kidding! I’m looking forward all kinds of adventures this year.
2. I’ve been cancer-free for three years. Wow.
Every six months I check in with the nicest oncologist for blood tests. He puts me at ease, but it’s still nerve-wracking. He reads one of the results while I’m in the office. The second batch of tests take a few days. I would only be notified if those come back positive. For five days afterward, I freak out every time the phone rings. I only have four more blood draws, the next one in August. I’m counting down.
3. I don’t think about cancer very often these days. The first two years, I thought about it A LOT.
It really bothered me that I had lived a really healthy, green, organic life and still got the stinkin’ disease. That was so not fair. I was angry. But sometime during the last two years, I stopped obsessing. I let it go. Now I live my life, make plans for the future, and rarely look back.
Part of that transformation occurred because of even more healthy choices. I gave up alcohol linked to breast cancer and osteoporosis, even though I only drank a few glasses of wine per week. I try to avoid eating food that could increase estrogen since that’s what my cancer ate. It must have raised my metabolism with all that munching. I was so thin!
These lifestyle changes have given me confidence in my health, so I don’t worry about recurrence.
Instead of thinking about cancer crapola, I’m focused on writing books, screenplays and getting back into shape after knee surgery and a broken wrist. Yep. Normal stuff. I’m looking ahead, way ahead.
4. Being called a survivor is not an accurate portrayal of my cancer journey.
Sure I survived cancer, but haven’t a lot of us survived something? I never told you about the time U-Haul saved my life or when my family was stuck in snowstorm and divine intervention came knocking. I’ll have to post those stories sometime. Okay, so those stories are close calls not stories of survival. But many have survived other horrific diseases or catastrophic events.
So what makes me different than a lot of other people?
It’s not that I’m a cancer survivor,
I’m a thriver.
What have you survived? Are you a thriver? What are you doing today?