cancer survivor

The Year of Cancer – Thoughts on Surviving 2023 #cancerfree #cancerpatient #gratititude

contemplations on a year of cancer

“You have cancer.”

Those three words started 2023 for me. Closely followed by, “There are 6 months of chemo in your future, and you will lose your hair.”

My thoughts and emotions tumbled, unable to find purchase for months. Overwhelmed doesn’t begin to describe what the newly diagnosed cancer patient feels. I knew I needed help, but didn’t know how to find it. Maybe they keep us partially ignorant on purpose. If I knew the complete truth of what my life was going to be like for the rest of the year, I would have been more overwhelmed.

Losing my hair was one of the least horrible side effects. Effectively, I was systematically poisoned week after week. Yes, some people deal better with chemo than others, but no one gets out of it feeling like they’re ready to mambo.

I shouldn’t have been surprised I ended up in the hospital more than once during the ordeal, but I was continuously horrified at the way cancer took over my life. Angry and affronted is what I felt a lot, and I resisted the barrage of appointments, insisting they work on my schedule, like the stubborn lady I am. I did have to give in to their schedule and give up all control. I guess that was my biggest objection—the loss of control. Not just a little control. All control.

On the plus side, tenacity saw me through the chemo, the surgeries, the side effects, an the radiation. And, in the end, I reached the magical nirvana phase of “No Evidence Detected,” which meant my cancer was dead.

That made chemo worth it. Horrible as it was, if I had to do it again, I would. Why? Because those extra years of life and health are worth the awfulness and the trial. I’m not done living yet.

After chemo, I had two surgeries. After those, I felt like a Frankenstein—mutilated and hacked up. My insomnia issues started in earnest after the second surgery. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of emotions bubbling under my skin I haven’t dealt with yet. That’s something I’ll look into addressing this year.

Radiation wasn’t a picnic either. I still have pain and the discoloration. My irradiated tissue keeps texture, color, shape and size, which makes me feel more mutilated and freakish.

Yes, the battle scars are better than the cancer killing me, but sometimes when I stop to think about it all, I dissolve into jelly. I know there’s a lot in my emotions and psyche I have not dealt with. From the initial diagnosis to now, was a constant whirlwind of tests and doctors and treatments. There wasn’t a lot of time to digest and process.

There were moments when I stood outside of the cancer center and my brain screamed at me to run away. I’d tell myself, “I really don’t want to do this.”

But I’d see the 80-year-olds fighting, and I kept myself focused on the fact that I would be okay in the end. I repeated that over and over and over, and it got me through.

It’s unclear how I got through some days. They were dark and filled with sickness and awfulness and nothing good. Every minute ticked by like a day of agony. Many people were rooting for me. That certainly helped. And, like I said earlier, I can be really stubborn. It’s not in my nature to give up, so I was going to fight and keep fighting.

Small amounts of relief were found through my acupuncturist. Dana was a godsend, and I will continue to see her in the years to come. She introduced me to alternative therapies and essential oils. She certainly made an unbearable six months a little more bearable. She always gives me sound advice and valuable pointers. Most of all, she listens.

Many of the oncology nurses also listened. A lot. Some of them are true angels on Earth. They should be paid better than CEOs.

My writer life helped keep me looking forward, too. I could forget my agony for a bit here and there by drowning my mind in plans for my stories. Books helped too. Thank you, Murderbot and Legends & Lattes.

The toughest people on Earth are those battling cancer. Each warrior adds his or her story and helps the next person. Each person leaves a legacy of their cancer story. I leave a legacy, especially my uncommon reaction to Keytruda.

Anyway, the year ends with cancer defeated and the war won. So, 2023 ends in a good place. It was the hardest fight of my life, and the one I’m most proud of. I endured, I conquered, and I was victorious. After an extremely bumpy and rough patch of road, I get to go on with my life.

So get tested and screened for any cancer they test and screen for. The earlier it’s found, the more likely you are to survive. Early detection is the best weapon in any arsenol, and so many people do survive. The survival stories aren’t heard enough, but you need to seek them out. Read them. Hear them. There are millions and millions of survivors. WE ARE HERE.

 

 

Determination, Survival, and Resilience

Since January of this year, I’ve found out what I’m made of, and I’m tougher than I thought. The toughest people on Earth are those who battle cancer because chemo is not for the faint of heart nor for anyone without a fighting spirit.

cancer survivor

A Message of Early Detection

My battle against cancer started with early detection, and I cannot stress enough how vital it is to be proactive about your health. If you notice anything unusual or alarming on your body, seek medical attention promptly. Early detection can make a significant difference in the success of treatment. Huge strides have been made in the treatment of many cancers, and it’s not the death sentence it once was. Not if you suck down some courage and go to the doctor. Is it easy to find out you have cancer? No. But not knowing will kill you. Knowing can save your life.

A Tough Road

My cancer diagnosis shook my world. Until the end of June, I endured grueling and brutal chemotherapy. The side effects were relentless, leaving me feeling sick and drained most of the time. There were days when all I could do was exist, and each day felt like a never-ending struggle. I ended up in the hospital twice with life-threatening side effects, and I really don’t like the hospital. For one, it’s really boring. For two, they don’t let you sleep. For three, it’s really boring. Despite the hardships, I kept in mind that I would be okay in the end. I have always been tenacious and stubborn and those traits served me well over the last seven months.

Seeking Comfort and Healing

Amidst the challenges of chemotherapy, I discovered Reiki treatment, a comforting and soothing practice that provided much-needed solace. Chemo sometimes had me feeling so awful I didn’t know what to do. I was willing to try anything for a modicum of comfort. Anything. So, I tried acupuncture too. Acupuncture became an essential part of my healing journey, helping me sleep better, alleviating discomfort, nausea, and curing hives. If you never tried it, you should. Besides being great for healing, I also find it very relaxing. Many health insurances will cover acupuncture. Check with your healthcare provider.

Embracing Progress and Hope

Thankfully, chemotherapy is behind me, and I’m gradually regaining my strength and energy. The next chapter in my fight against cancer is surgery, which is just a few days away. I am hopeful for clear margins and positive pathology results, which will allow me to avoid oral chemo.  NO MORE CHEMO! Then next in the fight is radiation, another step toward complete healing.

Gratitude for Supportive Fans

Throughout this health struggle, I have been overwhelmed by the love, generosity, and patience of my fans. Their unwavering support and kindness have been a source of strength and inspiration. As a token of my appreciation, I’m working on a special novella featuring the beloved characters, Talos and Lepsi. This novella will be exclusively available through my newsletter, as a heartfelt thank you to all who have stood by me during this challenging time. So if you want to read the story and haven’t joined the M. Pax Dimension yet, get to it! JOIN

The battle against cancer has been daunting, but I remain optimistic and determined. I still have quite a road ahead of me, but I know I’ll be okay in the end. My perspective has been forever changed, and maybe that’s what the Universe decided I needed to know. I don’t believe anything is random. When I decided to look for a new job, I ran into someone I used to work with who told me about my current employer. I got the job and great health insurance. A year later, when I was eligible for protected leave, I found out I had cancer. It wasn’t random I ran into Alex that day. Fate knew I needed better health insurance and a better job. So where will this lead? It’s too early to tell. But I certainly gained wisdom and appreciation for days when I don’t feel sick.

So if you’re in a tough place, have faith that things will work out and that the bumpy road will lead somewhere better. Wishing you good health! Peace out!

 

 

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