Being a Survivor…Always Grateful, Always Worrying

Funny, how when I am trying to find something to write about, something happens in my life that truly speaks to me, sometimes screams to me, to be written about.

So it is today. If I hadn’t used the title I did for my last blog, I could easily use it today! Because it fits better than any other.

I am a Survivor. Most of you know that. I am grateful for it. It has been almost 12 years now since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 12. I can hardly believe it. It has gone fast. Faster than I expected. I will always be thankful for each birthday I get…one coming up soon. Although I may be shocked at the number it will be, I am also very happy for it.

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If you are not a survivor you may not know what we really feel, what we go through. Every day. At least for me.  Do you think we can forget about what we went through? Do you think we can put it behind us? We can’t. I can’t. I for one, have been both physically and emotionally altered forever.  From the very second I got that call that said, “I have some tough news”, to now. Always and forever. The physical is a daily reminder of it. Sometimes I get angry. Still.  Wonder why. I feel somewhat ‘defective’ if you will.  Most days, I can’t even look. The reconstruction doesn’t always turn out like you expect. Mine didn’t. And often, I am in discomfort. My arm, where the lymph nodes were taken always numb, and not as strong as it used to be. It gets tired. A lot. I don’t like that.  I usually try to do whatever I want anyhow…and sometimes I can feel it. It makes me angry.  When you see me, you probably do not realize that sometimes I am feeling those things.  I try not to show it to others.  I am sure many forget when they see me what I went through.  I don’t look like I went through anything. Those who just meet me would never know it. I try to live as normal as I can. Being a survivor.

Then there is the emotional.  That is a whole other ball game! I used to think about it ALL THE TIME.  I feared every ache, every pain. I worried every day.  I thought about mortality far too much. Do I now?  Sure. But I can’t let it consume me.  For if, I did, I would no longer be LIVING my life.  I would only be existing.  I don’t want to do that.  I always signed my book to people…”Find your joy in each and every day.”  I meant it.  I had to learn to. I do.  I try now to live my life. To smile, to laugh, to have fun. To love. I reallllllly don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. What is the point? What does that serve?

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Check ups still terrify me. I hate them. The anxiety is immense.  It is hard to wait for results.  When I went to the Cancer Center, they would bring in the blood results with them and I would know my fate before I left.  I think those days of good results, I could have just flown home on a cloud! Now I go to my regular doctor.  Which is kind of a good thing, because it means the cancer is a part of my history. But it means I wait until I get a call…not what you want…or a letter…yes please!  This last check up was my best one yet..  For that I am grateful.

BUT….do we sometimes live waiting for things to change? I try not to think about it. But sometimes you can’t help it. It is something I never ever want to go through again. Who would. It is a hell I don’t wish on anyone.

A good friend of mine will be going through it again. She got that dreaded call today.  One no one wants, and one I think is harder for someone who has already survived it, to get. I won’t lie, I cried when I heard. My heart broke for her.  I wonder why.  No one, NO ONE, deserves this. I struggle with the words to say to her. I don’t feel like I am sorry is enough. How could it be? Of course I AM sorry. More than I can convey. But how does that make it better for someone who hears those words again?  I am not sure. I can only say them. Mean them. And offer to be there for her. I hope she asks if she needs me. I hope I know what to do or say. Sometimes, I don’t think saying anything is necessary.  I remember how important it was to just have someone there. To know they cared.  There were many times when I didn’t.  When I would go to treatments and appointments alone. That was rough. I wondered why sometimes.  But no matter, I went, and did what I had to do.  I know she will too. I just wish she didn’t have to.

As a survivor, I was always be grateful. For everything. I post a lot of sunrises on my Facebook page. I find them beautiful and I truly cherish every one! So I share them. It is not just the big things, though, it is even the littlest of things…something as simple as cleaning my house. At one point, I was not able to do anything as normal as that. Sometimes when I am doing the dishes, or the laundry, I actually say ‘thank you’.

Do I still worry?  Of course. I sometimes imagine what it would be like to not be here. It is not a feeling I like to feel. I am forever thankful that I am here now. This cancer thing I had, it changed my life. But in some ways, for the better. That said, it is not a wake up call I would wish on anyone!

My message, as always, is Life is too short! Be grateful. Tell those you love that you do. Mean it, show it!  Don’t ever take them for granted.  Find YOUR joy in life. Be happy. Smile, laugh. Be happy. Cherish every sunrise!

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12 comments

  1. Great blog and wonderful reminder to treasure each and every day, sunrise to sunset….or for those of us who live on the internet, sunrise to sunrise (with a couple of hours’ sleep in between.) Always a joy to read your blogs!

  2. I’m pretty sure I know that friend of yours. Your blogs are great Joy. I’m currently in my quiet, just on the verge of crying mode. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I am SO glad I have YOU in my corner! Love you my dear dear friend.

  3. I cannot even begin to imagine what you have been through. I’m not sure how I would handle it, but it sounds like you’re a fighter and you got through it all. I can see where such a struggle would give you a renewed appreciation for this beautiful gift we call life. Sending you BIG hugs today! XO

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