Five years ago today I walked out of cancer center for the last time.
Later this month I have my last appointment with the oncologist in town.
After five years I can truly say, I am free.
Having cancer has changed me.
It has changed the way I live my life.
It showed me which are the most important things in life.
I'm not the same person I was before.
I lost a lot of things living through cancer and it's treatment.
I lost my smell, my taste, my saliva glands. I lost the strength and endurance I had before
I lost some mental endurance.
And there will always be some hard days.
Some days, when "Will it come back?", "Why am I fortunate and others aren't?" will be on my mind.
I've gained a lot of things too.
I gained more time.
I gained empathy.
I gained an appreciation for the life I have.
That makes up for all the rest.
I understand how adaptable my body can be in adjusting to what at first seems difficult situations and now seem just annoyances.
Life isn't the same and in some ways I don't want it to be.
Along this journey I have found a few quotations that express my feelings better than I can.
"Sickness, reflected Robert, changed a man. He thought of the invalids he had known. How often he had dismissed their querulousness and complaints as the outcome of self-pity! He knew better now.It was not only with themselves and their pain that the sick were concerned. They worried for others. They grieved for the work they were causing, for the disruption of other people's lives, the sapping of their energy, the tensions within a family, and the awful possibility of increasing helplessness."
Return to Thrush Green, by Miss Read
"One surprising thing I found was that only a small part of the cancer experience is about medicine. Most of it is about feelings, faith, losing and finding your identity, and discovering strength and flexibility you never even knew you had.
It's about realizing that the most important things are life are not things at all, but relationships.
We know that the way to cope with trauma, loss or any other life-changing experience is to find meaning. ... No one can tell us what that meaning is. We have to decide what it means. And that meaning can be quiet and private -- we don't need to ... write a book.... Instead perhaps we make one small decision about our lives that can bring about big change.
Sometimes it's not outside factors that cause us to take on that survivor identity; sometimes we like that perks, but we get stuck.
We have to let our old story go so that a newer, truer story can be told about who we are."
Down Off The Cross, by Debra Jarvis, Reader's Digest.
I don't think my hair has grown any longer this last year.
I'm satisfied the way it is.
To see how my hair has changed these five years, click here.
If you want to see what I looked like with no hair, click here.