I Am a Cancer Survivor
The emotional turmoil a woman goes through when she learns she has Cancer has an emotional impact on the rest of her life.
Like other women who struggle with a life-threatening illness, I mourned the loss of good health. It was such a frightening disruption in my life. I spiraled from the top of the mountain to the depths of despair when I learned I had CANCER. I told my friends and family:
“Please do not call me, Suzi Good.”
“But, you are a, Suzi,” they said.
“Not anymore,” I replied. “I am forevermore a Susan.”
You see Darlings, on the day I learned I had two types of Cancer, a certain innocence died within the girl from Kankakee by the Sea, an innocence that would never return. I felt like Chicken Little who cried, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.”
It is now twelve years later. I rather doubt I am the woman I would have been if I had not had Cancer. Let me explain how my experience with Cancer affected me.
It was over a long period of time that I began to notice little changes in myself that ultimately turned into a magical transformation. Over the course of time it took me to emotionally heal from my trauma, I spent an amazing amount of time thinking about my life. My thoughts ultimately led me to connect with my authentic self, owning my own unique points of view and realize how priceless it is. How good it made me feel.
I listened to the me in me, not to the outside world.
I looked within and saw myself much clearer. One day I realized my spiritual side had connected with my lifestyle and I felt whole. I felt healthy. Today, I lead a fulfilling life. Sure, like you, I have unexpected “stuff” that I have to deal with, but dealing is easier when you are true to yourself.
Be a GRANDWOMAN with moxie in 2020…be your authentic self.
I went to the dermatologist for my yearly body check twelve years ago. A spot on my leg turned out to be a melanoma that required major surgery. Of course, I needed a chest x-ray before surgery. The x-ray showed a mass in my lung! In a 10-second timeframe, I learned from my doctor I had two different Cancers! I had a double shock.
I would not be alive today if I had not gone to the Dermatologist for my yearly body check. Darlings, being proactive about your health is a priority you own. I had zero symptoms. Actually I never had felt better! I owe my life to myself because I am a woman who is disciplined about routine exams. Are you?
I had two surgeries two weeks apart. The melanoma and lung cancer were diagnosed in Stage 1 but I did not require chemotherapy or radiation. I did, however, lose 1/2 of one lung. Everyone said, “You are so lucky!”
I was out and about and physically recovered with a smile on my face in no time. But I had an unseen ache in my heart. You see, I did not feel lucky. In fact, I was terrified by the word, Cancer.
A dark cloud was over my head every day for a very long time. The fear I would again be assaulted with Cancer was always there. My emotional healing took time. I constantly wondered, “Will it come back?”
My emotional survival took five years. Each year I felt less like Chicken Little. “The sky is falling” stopped falling every day. It weaved in and out of my life.
During that period of five years, I did not stop living. I did not lay in bed bemoaning my fate. Instead, I put on my red lipstick, spritzed myself with my favorite perfume and went on my early morning walk with my pooch, Orchid. And Darlings, I lived! I lived, I learned, I laughed and I grew.
Living Life To The Fullest
For the first three years, I had a cat scan that would put me in “fear mode” at least a month before the actual scan. I graduated to scans every six months for the following two years and now I have a yearly scan that still frightens me. Darlings, I know this fear will never go away and I have accepted it as best I can.
It is interesting that for those first five years after being diagnosed with Cancer I had the ability to live an exciting and fast-paced life. I actually did more than I had ever done. Now I realize the magical transformation I talked about early in my story was stirring within me the chance to be the me in me. The authentic me.
I studied and had my Bat Mitzvah, I became a writer and the owner of an Internet Company, I traveled with my Ultimate Concierge to countries most Americans will never see such as Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. As well, I became an author, made new friends around the world and became more curious and more grateful. I watched my Grands growing up, I lived outside the box and had no fear of testing new waters that piqued my curiosity. It was the time I became my authentic self, listening to the me in me. It was the time I began to ride my own wave and today 12 years later, I own that wave.
HOW TO HEAL EMOTIONALLY
To begin with, I cannot explain why, but I never felt sorry for myself. I only occasionally wondered, what went wrong in my body to create this disease. The cloud over my head that made me think, the “sky is falling” was the cloud of fear. I started to heal emotionally because I did not cover up my fear of “The Big C” attacking me again. Instead, I talked about it, I lived through the pain of trying to understand how to accept what I could not change.
I showed my vulnerable side to my friends who cared and was able to express my fear, not hide it under the carpet. I sobbed a thousand tears at the drop of a hat; buckets full for months and months. As well, I expressed my feelings of fear to my husband and my family.
Showing my vulnerable side made me feel powerful because I was able to share my fears with others. I realized being a vulnerable woman is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.
I believe a GRANDWOMAN in 2020 with Moxie is authentic and realizes her vulnerable side is powerful.
One day I walked into the Channel Boutique to visit a girlfriend who had lung cancer. She convinced me to visit her psychologist. Jennifer gave me tools to help me find my way back to positivity.
So Darlings, here are a few suggestions for any type of recovery from illness:
1. Live openly through your emotional pain.
2. Stay involved with life. Put on your red lipstick and dare yourself to dare.
3. Smell the flowers!
4. Keep your body strong. Nourish your body with healthy foods and exercise.
5. Never miss a Dr. Appointment.
6. Be proactive about your health.
7. Seek out a Positive Psychologist (a type of practice) to speak to.
8. Do things you dreamed of doing.
9. Be authentic. Be vulnerable.
10. Be curious and grateful.
This month I have my precautionary lung cat scan. Am I scared? Yes, I am scared. Will I cancel it out of fear? Not a chance. Once again it could save my life. Hopefully, I will walk out of the Doctor’s office with a smile.