I’m sorry I’m blogging less here. I am writing less in general. I have always written a lot in a multitude of forms…journals, poems, essays, more recently blogs. I’ve written a lot since about the age of 13. So this is unusual for me. I’m at a sort of strange crossroad. Cancer and survivorship have defined me and much of my writing since my diagnosis in 2001. A cancer diagnosis overwhelms your life, as does treatment, as does survivorship. It’s ongoing and life-altering for many years. All we want after our diagnosis is to return to our “before cancer normal”. Something we really can’t do. We have to create a new normal after cancer. We are never who we were, our lives are never what they were before diagnosis.
I think a part of me is rebelling. I want to try to do life without thinking about cancer…at least a little bit. I read a book once about a physician cancer researcher who was diagnosed with a uniformly fatal cancer. He over-dosed himself on the standard chemotherapy for his cancer and almost died from the effect (he could do that, he was a physician). When he had survived past his life expectency, he gave up his cancer research and his medical career and went to live somewhere on a remote island. He couldn’t live in the cancer world anymore, he didn’t want anything to do with medicine. He ran away. I don’t know if his physically running away helped him to mentally leave his cancer diagnosis (I’m guesing not). But he wanted to try to find a new cancer-free “normal”.
I won’t ever go that far ever. I truly believe I am meant to stay in the cancer community. I still answer many emails from newly diagnosed appendix cancer patients, and I love being able to do that. In less than 30 days, I will begin graduate nursing education in oncology. Next month I will probably go to Maryland to meet one of the leading appendix cancer specialists and to participate in “Heat it to Beat It”.
I feel that I was given the gift of surviving my terminal diagnosis so that I could help others navigating the rare cancer medical maze. I truly feel I survived for that purpose. Is it a coincidence that I was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of appendiceal cancer at Stage 4, happened to be a medical professional who had spent years teaching lay people about their diseases and who before diagnosis happended to be fascinated by rare disease…I don’t think so. I believe in Divine appointments, and I think my diagnosis and experience (and survival) was given to me so I could help others diagnosed with this rare cancer. It’s my life purpose.
But just for a little bit, I’ve let myself feel safe from cancer, from the uncertainty, from cancer testing. I’m living a life not focused on the vulnerability cancer makes us feel. My husband and kids and I just did our annual “family vacation”. Just the four of us, out of town and spoiling ourselves for a bit. Spending time together as a family; mom, dad and kids.
I don’t know how many more years we will be able to do that…in a few years my kids will probably have their own families to vacation with…but I hope they continue the tradition with their own families we’ve had for many years. So I’m enjoying it!!