I know all too well how a diagnosis like that feels. I know how it feels when it happens to involve a dearly loved family member and I know too how it feels when it happened to me and I got a diagnosis like that seven years ago and again, a little over a month ago.
But I know too how I feel now about cancer and I no longer fear it like I did for a good bit of my life.
I'm reposting something here today that I wrote in March of 2004 -a year after my first diagnosis, after chemo, radiation, surgery, more chemo too. Although the theme of this piece was pertaining to Daffodil Days and cancer and was published at that time in a little monthly local publication that is no longer in operation (The West Branch Review), because of the recent events in my life and the fears I heard in Laura's post today, I thought maybe this piece might explain a few things about my view in 2004 and now too pertaining to Cancer. If it helps anyone who is facing this disease then I will be very happy to have put this piece out here for your reading pleasure.
What’s your favorite sign of spring? Warmer days, spring-type rains, robins or, if you are like me, perhaps it is the budding of jonquils and daffodils that signal spring is here.
However, since last March, those daffodils have taken on an entirely new concept of spring for me.
Daffodils, as you may know, are the symbols for a fund-raising event for the American Cancer Society. And, a year ago this coming March 12th, I learned I was just one of millions in the country who would benefit from the years of research done to find cures for cancer.
You see, I was diagnosed on that date with colo-rectal cancer.
After having endured a myriad of intestinal and digestive problems for about fifteen months, I finally saw a doctor, who referred me to a surgeon, who scheduled me to have a colonoscopy. And the results of that procedure gave me the news that yes, I had cancer.
When my surgeon came to speak to me, as I was getting ready to be discharged, he already had made plans for me as to what procedures would be utilized for my treatment.
I was scheduled to report to the Chemo Clinic at Clearfield Hospital in two days to begin 6-7 weeks of chemotherapy and the week following the colonoscopy, I was to go to Altoona Hospital to do the preliminary paper work for radiation therapy. Then, 6 to 8 weeks after the completion of radiation and chemo, the surgeon told me I would have surgery to remove the tumor detected that morning.
Because both my parents, an aunt and an uncle had succumbed to cancer and another aunt had a colostomy back in 1991 to remove a cancerous tumor, I already knew that genetically speaking, I was at risk of developing this dread disease and for many years, I had worried about that happening.
But strangely enough, once I heard the doctor give me his diagnosis and outline the treatment plans he had made for me, a sense of calm came over me. Not that I felt cocky and sure that I was going to beat the odds against me, but rather a sense of acceptance and at peace.
I wasn’t going to worry unnecessarily about the possible outcome: what ever would be would be!
I had six weeks of chemo –with a portapack pump system that provided a continuous dosage of the chemotherapy. For six weeks I also rode the Medi-van back and forth to Altoona for radiation that would attempt to shrink the tumor. And, in my case, I was lucky that I didn’t experience all kinds of problems with nausea from the chemo. Once the radiation was completed, I did notice a big drop in my energy levels and the surgeon told me that was an after-effect from the combination of the radiation and the chemo.
In June, I had surgery which fortunately resulted only in having a colon resection and not a colostomy. Recuperation for roughly six weeks was prescribed and then I began follow-up chemotherapy one week a month for the next six months. This chemo did have more of a wallop to my system, in that it did give me problems with nausea and cramps for the week I received the treatment and sometimes for the entire week following that but in January of this year I completed that program and the chemo doctor informed me all the tests he had run showed that I am now cancer free.
This doesn’t mean that the cancer will never return as it could already be in the process of doing that and just hasn’t grown enough to be detected. But, it could also be that I will go on about my business and never have any further problems with this disease too.
Whatever the final outcome is though, I am very grateful for having been diagnosed and at least for the time being, cured.
I no longer view cancer the same way as I did before either. Not that I would welcome a return visit of the disease, but I know that treatment is often available and yes, more and more frequently, the outcome from these treatments is very favorable too!
So when you see someone selling those beautiful daffodils, think about how much help you are giving to people like me, all over the country, through research, treatments, providing various forms of assistance to cancer patients and their families comes from purchasing a bunch of daffodils.
They not only brighten up your home but help make the lives of so many people much more beautiful. They also provide the hope, like spring gives us too, of many more wonderful days to spend basking in the sunshine of our families and friends!
Who knows, maybe someday through the funds raised from the purchases of these lovely flowers cancer may even be totally eradicated.
Who knows too, maybe you will, as did, view spring and daffodils, in a whole new vein.