It's been so long since I've checked in with this blog and I'm so pleased to say that I'm doing just fine. This month marks seven years since my diagnosis and I've been cancer-free ever since the tumor removal in September 2007.
Life takes on a different character after you battle this disease and each passing year gives you more promise that you'll live as long and healthy as you've always wanted. It's all we want, really, to live a "normal" life. None of us come into this world expecting to live to be 120, but when something profound comes along that threatens to steal dozens of good years away from you - YOUR years that you've counted on, that your family has counted on, it forces you to take a radical new perspective on what your life may now be like. If you're fortunate enough to beat this disease, the rest of your life doesn't simply open back up again, uncoil like a compressed spring being released. Instead, you're afforded a little bit of your life back at a time - a little more hope with each passing month, each year. This is a way of protecting yourself, but also a recognition of the new life you've been given. It's not the same life you had before, where old age was the expected scenario. In this new life you've been given the gift of perspective on how to live with future uncertainties and on just how precious each day is.
About a year ago, I sat across from my oncologist during a checkup and he put down my thick chart that is literally the size of a big city telephone book, and looked at me. He smiled, held out his hands and took mine in his, then said, "I am proud of you. You look so good, so happy, and you're living your life again - finally. The way we want to see all of our patients live their lives after their battles." I smiled in agreement, sharing this pride, realizing how sincere his words were and how deeply they resonated with me and this journey.
We are all in this together. Whether you're in the midst of your fears within a battle that seems so huge that you shudder with every thought about getting through your day, to those who have won the cancer battle and moved on to all the other battles we wage in our lives. The doctors are here too, and our families. This is who we are now - forever changed, forever united, we muster through and somehow persevere.