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Why did April 15th become my cancerversary? Why not the day I was diagnosed? Or the day of my second surgery and the end of treatment (except for the taxomifen I continue to take?)
I think April 15th stands out in my mind because it was the day I was forced to show up and fully become a cancer patient and, eventually, a survivor.
For the prior six and a half months, I wasn't even sure I was a breast cancer patient. I didn't have a lump, wasn't rushed into surgery, and had no chemotherapy or radiation. I was free-floating, with no center to my cancer universe.
Finally, I was forced to show up very early in the morning to face what scared me the most: loss, vulnerability, and completely handing my body over to the unknown.
But I also remember the trust, in myself and my doctors, which got me there.
On April 15, 2009, I laid my body down and submitted to a surgery I didn't want. But that was also the day I entered the cocoon of support I found at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ. That day made possible my keynote speech at the recent Leukemia & Lymphoma Society 5th Annual Blood Conference. As I shared at the conference and in my first book, You Can Thrive After Treatment, showing up to be supported is the first and most important simple secret to creating inspired healing, wellness and live out loud joy, because it made every other healing step I took possible.
2009 was one of the two worst years of my life. (The other contender is 1984, but that's a story for another day.) As bad as it was, 2009 was also the year I started putting one foot in front of the other to get to today. I see the progress, and the struggles, as I read over the posts I wrote in years two, three and four:
I wish I had written something on year one, but I wasn't up to it then. Just another indicator of how far I've come. The truth is, however, that cancer isn't a straight-line experience. There are bad days, bad years and traumatic experiences which unleash the holy hell of cancer all over again. I've learned that it really is all about putting one foot in front of the other (when possible) and being kind to yourself when you just want to fall in a heap and have a good cry. And I've also learned, from my own experience and that of my friends that, just because I finally hit five years, this whole cancer thing isn't over by a long shot.
Even so, today is a good day. I'm mindful that five years cancer free is something to celebrate and my husband and I will be doing just that during our yearly dinner out (he didn't have time for lunch this year.)
Every day, every year, for the rest of my life. It's okay to be wherever you are and it's all part of healing.
Much love and healing to you,
"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen next." Gilda Radner
About five years ago, for just 50 cents and a little bit of courage, I bought myself a cancer guru. Of course, I didn't know the significance of that purchase at the time. But, the universe knew what I needed and brought her to me to help make sense of the nonsensical that is cancer.
That teacher was Gilda Radner and she came to me via a tattered copy of her book, It's Always Something. I stumbled upon it at a garage sale a few months after my breast cancer diagnosis, mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries. I remember standing in someone's front yard, the book in my hand, afraid to take it home because I knew how it ended.
And yet I couldn't put it down.
There was nothing else to do but plunk down two quarters and take Gilda home with me. I read the book in a day, and it affected me deeply.
Which brings us to this year. On April 5th, I will stand before approximately 300 people to deliver the keynote speech at the 5th Annual Blood Cancer Conference of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Cincinnati, Ohio. The theme of the conference is "New Paths to Hope for Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma."
As I prepare to give my talk, I'm thinking a lot about hope and what it means to me. Which brought me back to Gilda and her truth that "life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen next."
Despite her terminal condition, Gilda lived the definition of hope.
When times are tough, we can wish things were better, or we can live our hope. The difference is all about action. Wishing is passive, while living our hope requires "having to change" and "taking the moment and making the best of it." Living your hope means being proactive and choosing healing over wishing.
You can do it.
It's not necessarily easy, but it is simple. Show Up to Be Supported. Take Every Opportunity to Laugh. Cultivate a Sense of Wonder. Celebrate Your Courage. Make it happen. You Can Thrive After Treatment and you can decide to Build an Amazing Life After Treatment. You have a lot more input into this crazy cancer thing than you realize.
You can choose to live your hope.
This is your survivorship.
How do you want to live it?
Survival > Existence,
Special Edition Motivation Monday! Get the First 5 Chapters of "You Can Thrive After Treatment" Free
What better day to share five of the simple secrets that motivated me to create inspired healing, wellness and live out loud joy beyond cancer! You'll find them in the first five chapters of my book, You Can Thrive After Treatment, which I'm making available to you FREE!
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Survival > Existence,
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