Recently I saw an interview with Hoda Kotb of the TODAY show. She is a breast cancer survivor and she said someone gave her this advice, as she was going through her ordeal, “Don’t Hog The Journey”. How apropos I thought. I titled my blog “The Journey” without giving it much thought and have come to realize how sharing truly is helpful for me and apparently for others as well. So, it is in the spirit continuing to share and “not hogging the journey” that I write this post tonight! It’s taken me awhile to get this one on paper because these days I write from a different vantage point….
I recently reread all of the blog posts of the last year. (Yes, it has been almost a year! Can you believe it?!) Those posts were, for the most part, purely updates. They served their purpose – informing friends & family, near and far, about the steps in the process of diagnoses, treatment, etc. They were “moment in time” updates. Here is what is happening today or my next appointment or with my physical welfare. Makes sense – during that time we were “living in the moment”. Doing what we needed to survive each day, each hour, each moment. We were in survival mode – exactly as we needed to be. To some of you, this sounds a little melodramatic. Some of you (you know who you are!) didn’t even believe “she was that sick”. Yep, I’ve been prone to induce a little drama in my lifetime especially when I’m passionate about something! However, trust me when I say, I have no intention of lending any more credence or drama to cancer than necessary! It sucked, we survived, end of story.
I also noticed how often those previous updates, and even now, I refer to “we”. Interesting, but not altogether surprising. I had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – the actual disease and subsequent ill-effects of treatment, HOWEVER, the four of us, WE survived cancer. John and the boys survived a different type of “cancer” that spread through the house - the type that has no name. The type that you cannot necessarily provide a quick treatment for. The emotional type – fear, anxiety, anger, helplessness, frustration and sadness. In some ways they were in a tougher position than I was. I KNEW what physical and mental limits I could handle. My tolerance for pain – physical and mental -is high. On the days when I couldn’t handle it, yes, I unfortunately had to resort to drugs and slept the day(s) away. Are they stronger for surviving this other “cancer”? My guess is yes and I surely hope so as I would like there to be some positive that comes out of all of this on their behalf. Why am I guessing? Because they are boys/men – they do not talk about their feelings! It is too early to say how their experience will manifest itself, only time will tell, but I will be on the lookout for these manifestations in the future, that’s for sure! (Here’s an update – they have no tolerance for their ailing Mom anymore regardless of how I feel physically. “You are cancer-free, you have hair, you look fine – now get back to work and let’s get on with it”. This can be frustrating at times as I don’t always feel as good as I may look. In the opposite regard it keeps me on my toes and moving!) Hmm…I wonder where they get that?!
As for me, I’m in the “what the hell caused this cancer, how the hell can I avoid it in the future and while I’m at it, how the hell can I avoid it for my family and the rest of my loved ones too” mode! Yep, you know what that means – I’m now a crusader! I’ve started reading again and my reading materials include books about preventing and curing cancer which leads me to researching organic foods, pesticides, chemicals, diet, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, long-term chemotherapy effects, etc, etc, etc!! Truth be told, the way I look at it, I’m allowed to be a little fanatical and if that means making some individual changes that aren’t always popular with the mainstream, my doctors (or my boys) then so be it. I am now a firm believer that what we are ingesting – food, drugs, pollutants - is at the heart of the matter. Therefore, we should not be surprised that so many people are getting cancer - and at younger ages. It’s an epidemic that has roots in many areas – politics, big business and money to name a few. Additionally, the engine can’t run if you don’t treat it properly. Unfortunately, we take our body for granted and do not give it the priority status it needs and requires.
Okay, now all that being said, let’s be a little realistic – I still have an addiction to chocolate and sweets. Surviving cancer did not preclude me from taking the boys on a “let’s visit every cupcake bakery in Southern California” tour this Summer. We called it the “Summer of Sleeping Late & Eating Cupcakes”! And we threw in a few Krispy Cremes and ice cream sundae’s along the way! No, I’m not perfect. Yes, I still have a lot work to do, therefore this journey (and personal crusade) continues. Stay tuned!