Emotions play a huge role in the life of a cancer patient. From the moment you are diagnosed, fear sets in. So much to fear…surgery, chemotherapy, radiation. These were all unknowns when I set off on my cancer journey. Fear had set in. The unknown is always scary. Perhaps my greatest fear was not being a part of my children’s lives as they reached pinnacle milestones. You know, the graduations, marriages and children. When I thought about them in the future, I continually would see images of them going on with their lives and these milestones with my husband, but I wasn’t in any of these images. Fear and continual worry set in.
Each time I would see my oncologist I would always ask, “Are you sure it’s working?” I wanted to make sure I was going to be around for all those milestones I had hoped and dreamed for my children. I’m pretty sure that I drove him crazy because have had the exact same conversation 29 times (I’ve seen him 29 times since that first meeting). He always assured me that my treatments were indeed working. Since my diagnosis, I have not had any scans that would justify that the treatments were indeed working. So every ache and pain would lead me to the worst case scenario…Fear of Reoccurrence.
The fear of reoccurrence haunts me daily. This fear is BIG and oh so very REAL! A fear that so many cancer survivors face. But, if you remember my post about silver linings several months ago, I do have a silver lining that has come out of all this fear. When my fears would creep back into my mind, I learned that I couldn’t ignore them or bury the reality of reoccurrence. Fear doesn’t let you live your life. It simply weighs you down. So I learned to face my fears and go have fun. CHERISH EACH PRECIOUS DAY!
I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have learned to turn my fears in challenges had it not been for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. This incredible organization helped me challenge myself mentally and physically. Their love, support and encouragement has been paramount in defining my “new normal”. Pre-diagnosis I would have never imagined I would voluntarily challenge the limits of my body with road races, IronGirl triathlons and biking from Baltimore to Key West. As I look back now, I wish it hadn’t taken a cancer diagnosis to teach me how to cherish each precious day and deal with fears in my life.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still fear reoccurrence. In fact, today I will meet with my oncologist for the 30th time since diagnosis. And yes, I will most likely have the same exact conversation I have had the 29 previous times. I am hoping he will send me away with reassurance that all is well. But channeling my fears into a challenge has proven to be incredibly helpful in the past. These challenges have been life changers for me. I wonder what my next challenge will be? Perhaps summiting a mountain.