Last week I went to my regular doctor because of the allergy symptoms. To be on the safe side, she ordered a chest xray because I've been short of breath. Thankfully, the xray was normal. This was good news and gives me increased confidence that the appointment this afternoon will go well.
My annual mammogram is due in August so I have another month or two before I start stressing about that!
I'll have to have some lab work done today to check for certain tumor markers. I'm expecting those to be fine too.
Overall, I can't complain...or I should say....I shouldn't complain! Itchy, watery eyes and excessive sneezing is something that I can handle (with a little help from Claritan or Zyrtec). I have many aches, pains and stiffness in my joints and bones...some of it due to my weight and some of it due to the cancer medication that I take daily, but, it's mostly just annoying. Since my sleep study and subsequent need for a CPAP at night...I am waking up without headaches and feeling refreshed!
I have much to be thankful for! Next month it will be 3 years since my diagnosis. I'm moving right along. Each year that there is no sign of cancer is year of victory for me! Cancer truly does change your life. It changes it in some pretty horrible ways...but also changes it in many beautiful ways.
Just because I'm feeling a little "punchy" today, here are some ways that my life has changed since cancer:
1. The realization (in a very tangible and concrete way) that I am NOT in control of
2. That even if you have decent medical insurance...you will pay a fortune in co pays, deductibles and various incidental medical needs.
3. That doctors and nurses are human and make mistakes.
4. That you can get away with having a bad attitude if you are bald.
5. That some of the most effective chemo drugs are actually poisons used in war to kill people (for instance, one of my chemo drugs had 'mustard gas' as an ingredient).
6. That no matter how strong your spiritual life is, you will still be scared sometimes.
7. That life is fragile.
8. That you are stronger than you think you are.
9. That you are NEVER alone.
10. That some friends will not be able to handle the 'cancer' thing and will withdraw from you totally.
In truth, I've learned much, much more and would never have enough space to list everything. I think the best way to describe cancer is to say that it is a JOURNEY! A coming of age of sorts. Your life is constantly changing from one day to the next and you are NEVER the same person that you were BEFORE the diagnosis. You BECOME flexible...you have to be! You find strength in your tears. You realize that you have been given a wonderful opportunity to touch other people....not in a grand, dramatic, "Sainthood" type of way....but in the small hidden ways. Like when you smile at the nurse who can't find a vein and has stuck you several times.....or when you share some comforting words to a new cancer patient as they sit in the chemo chair for the first time....or when you can call the garage attendant by name at the cancer center. You may never be aware that you are touching people. Seriously! You may never know what happens in some one's heart after an encounter. But rest assured that God WILL BRING good out of bad! What satan means for evil, God will turn it around!
So let the cancer rage...as it were! Let the doctors, the nurses, the drugs, the advances in medical technology do what they are supposed to do...and you do what you are supposed to do...LIVE one day at a time! Take each day in stride and do your very best to see the glass as half full! Allow yourself time (days, if you have to) to feel sorry for yourself and wallow in the deepest sorrow you've ever known....and then...get up and move on!
Dare I say it? BE NOT AFRAID! Sigh.
O St. Joseph, protector of those in agony, take pity on those who at this very moment are engaged in their last combat. Take pity on my own soul when the hour of death shall come for me. Do not abandon me; in granting your assistance, show that you are my good father, and grant that my divine Savior may receive me with mercy into that dwelling where the elect enjoy a life that shall never end! Amen.