I thought I was going to wait until next week, after I see my doctor, to give you an update on my cancer, but there's something I want to say today. I'm still here.
If you have read my post Cancer I Know, then you know that I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in November of 2013, and then moved onto stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2014, when the sneaky cells metastasized to my liver.
My initial prognosis in 2013 was that I would live for 1 to 5 years. Even after all the surgery and chemotherapy that I endured, that was all I could expect - 1 to 5 years. After it metastasized to my liver, my life expectancy was reduced to 1 year or less. That was just about a year ago today. When I found out this past November, just 5 months after completing chemotherapy for a second time, that the cancer was back again, my doctor took my hands in hers, and with a grave look on her face, said- this is going to shorten your life. Now I really like my doctor, so I held my sarcastic tongue, and just said - I know. But what I was thinking was - what do you mean by that....don't you think that's a funny thing to say to someone who should be dead by now?
When I see my doctor next week, if the lab results show that the cancer is still growing, I will again be told I am dying. Frankly, I'm getting pretty tired of people telling me I'm dying.
I have cancer. The cancer may kill me. But I am not dying! I am living! I'm still here.
Considering 1 in 3 Americans will at some point in their life (those are the current statistics) have some form of cancer, isn't it time we started talking about living with cancer? Isn't it time we erased the assumption that cancer = death, so that we can talk about it like any other life struggle?
Cancer sucks, but I'm not sure it's the worst thing that can ever happen to a person. The fact that we have made it so, has not only scared a lot of people with cancer into living like they are dying, but it has also isolated a lot of people.
The fear surrounding cancer has made it difficult to talk about. When I was first diagnosed, I told very few people. I didn't want to make them uncomfortable. I knew my cancer diagnosis would change the way they looked at me. I was now someone who might die soon. I was now someone who made them think about scary things - like dying. That's changed. I no longer feel I need to take responsibility for how others may react to hearing that I have cancer. I now tell anyone and everyone.
I don't mean that I run around telling people I have cancer for no reason, but I don't hide it either. And when I do tell people, I find because so many of us have cancer, or know someone who has cancer, that it gives us both the opportunity to show compassion, and to share our story, or the story of a loved one. It creates a connection. It takes away a little bit of the fear. It let's us be human. Not a statistic. Not a media headline. Just human.
So, I just want to say.
I'm still here.
So is my cancer.
I am alive.
I am not afraid.
I am living!