Monday, March 18, 2013


I am a Taurus. They say we are patient to the point of being stubborn.

When people talk about Cancer, many discuss how horrible the treatment was. Some discuss the humiliation of losing your hair, or throwing up after chemo. Some people focus on the fact that your body is forever changed. In Breast Cancer you may lose piece of, or all of your breast/s. Certainly all of these horrors are frightening and dealing with acceptance of these things is challenging for anyone. But for me the unbearable part of the journey was the waiting. So much for the Taurus thing!

The waiting, before you know you have Cancer, is bad enough. The mind runs in wild directions of what ifs that become the worse case possible. But initially "what if it's Cancer" can be followed with "it might not be Cancer" so there is some reprieve in the worry. Once you receive the diagnosis of CANCER those worse case scenarios take on a new vibrancy and a new level of fear. So as you wait for the result of a biopsy, or surgical procedure you sit on pins and needles and find it hard to think of anything else.

A day in this worried state seems like an eternity (especially since you may imagine your days could be numbered). Your heart is pumping a little harder, tears come a little quicker, you find you cannot focus on much else. The positive things people say to you float by unheard and sometimes it is only the negative you can hear. This is unbearable. And then, almost as a relief, the news comes and the plans are developed.

Making a plan is frightening only because there are always options. Which of these will be the right choice? You consult, you ruminate, you feel somewhat lost. But once the decision on what the next step is made, your focus moves from the what ifs to the here and now. You can focus on each step and know you are heading down a path way from Cancer and toward the rest of your life.

The wait of the treatment is not the same as the wait for the diagnosis or treatment plan. It has a purpose. You can DO something about it. The wait for the diagnosis itself perhaps is most annoying in the inability to DO anything about it.

In other times in our lives we wait. We wait for happy and sad things. You wait for a child to be born (if you are the pregnant one, that wait is mixed with anxiety and joy). You wait to find out if you are accepted to college or if you have been selected for a job. You have done all you can and then you wait. With illness however, you wait to be able to DO something your illness. And that is something I have a hard time with.

Now that I am on the "other side" of my Cancer, I found for the first several years I was still waiting. I was still holding my breath. It took me many years to start breathing again and feel completely out of "Cancer Zone." Now when I think about my health I realize my mortality is just about like everyone else my age. It isn't linked forever to my Cancer. I can do something about my life and my health. And when at times, as is normal, I think about getting older, it doesn't take long to remind myself that doing that is a gift I might never had received if I hadn't been screened in time to find my Cancer early enough to stop it.

Be proactive with your health. Doing that in the here and now will add years to your life. Focus on the beautiful day you are living, that will add joy to your days. And always, always remember although good things don't always come to those who wait, but the ability to move forward will be up to you.

How do you feel about waiting?

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