October is Cancer Awareness Month. As a cancer survivor, I know from experience that cancer does not care who it strikes with its poisonous venom. Therefore, it is up to each of us to take charge of our bodies and notice any changes, whether they are seen or felt. In other words, be proactive about your health because awareness is your only chance of survival.
Unfortunately, there are some deadly cancers that no amount of proactive measures or awareness can help.
Cancer Struck Two of Our Young Family Members
One of my young grandsons lost his wife last week. My young granddaughter Skylar also had surgery this past Tuesday. Cancer was the culprit that struck both of these beautiful, vivacious young women.
We are a bereaved family mourning the loss of my grandson’s engaging, stunning and brave young wife. Our family’s sorrow is so deep and profound that there are no words to adequately describe our feelings. Through all of this pain, we all question the unfairness and ask why?
A short few weeks ago, my phone rang around 2:00 pm. Fortunately, I was home to answer.
It was my granddaughter, Skylar, calling from Arizona. She wasted no time asking me if I had thyroid cancer. My heart sunk; nevertheless, I understood the importance of remaining calm.
It was a rather shocking question and naturally, I immediately asked her why. She explained that she was at her surgeon’s office with her mother because she was about to have a double hernia operation. A softball pitcher and an incredible athlete in college, she had strained herself while pitching. Before she left the office, the doctor asked if she noticed the large lump in her neck near her thyroid. She was told to see a doctor right away. Neither Skylar nor her mother had noticed it. Thus began Skylar’s journey…
Skylar knew I had my thyroid removed and wanted to know if I had cancer. While I told her I didn’t have cancer, I removed my thyroid because of non-malignant tumors.
Skylar explained that the surgeon noticed the lump. I immediately told her how lucky she was that she chose a surgeon who had a keen eye to notice the lump in her neck. I also validated her fears, explaining we would be partners in her journey back to good health. She and I, thank goodness, were the only two in the family who understood the experience of being told, “You have cancer.”
Only people who have had cancer fully understand the emotional trauma associated with that phrase.
Supporting My Family
I also educated her on what it felt like to have a thyroid biopsy. I explained to her that there was no pain. Discussing how I felt after the surgery, I explained the healing process and most importantly, the fact that I could discuss her prognosis with her. I recounted stories of people she knew who were thriving, leading extraordinary lives in their 60s and 70s.
I also told her I knew how she felt because when I was told I had cancer, I too was terrified.
She asked me to be by her side before and after her surgery. Of course, I planned to be with her. Early last Sunday morning, I kissed my ultimate concierge and pooch America goodbye and flew off to Arizona to be with Skylar and my daughter Jenny’s family so I could be a supportive mother and grandmother.
Shared Life Experiences
Skylar’s surgery was successful. The tumor was the lowest grade and incapsulated. Fortunately, she will live a long life because of her hernia surgeon who spotted the lump in her neck. We nicknamed her doctor Skylar’s Fairy Angel.
When I left a week later to fly back to my ultimate concierge and pooch, I reflected on our last moments together. I feel our bond is even stronger because we’ve experienced similar emotions. I am a safety net Skylar can now lean on who understands how it feels to be a cancer survivor. We share a life experience.
When I kissed her goodbye, I left her with these words:
I know you take very good care of your car. You change the oil, rotate the tires, keep it clean and check the battery so it runs smoothly. That is what you must now do with your body. If your surgeon tells you to come back in three months, make your appointment for your next visit to his office before you leave. Never miss an appointment. Never cancel an appointment for a later date. Be proactive about your health.
I ended my little sermon telling her that because I maintained a positive mindset and proactively attended each of my doctor’s appointments, I saved my life from cancer more than once.
Hugs and Conflicting Pain
We hugged again. We told each other how much we loved one another. I neither wanted to leave my family nor their home.
The last words I heard from my grands and my daughter were, “Honey, text us when you get to the airport. Text us when you get on the plane. Text us when you land.” I received a loving phone call from my daughter as I sat in the Admiral’s Club. My son in law, who I have known since he was 18 years old who I named Mrs. Doubtfire, could not have been more loving.
I am now on my flight back to my other loves, Shelly and America, waiting anxiously for me in our apartment in the sky back in Chicago.
My heart is so conflicted; it feels cut in two. One half is relieved and happy that Skylar will recover and resume her life. The other half of my heart aches with unceasing despair for all who experience tremendous pain from the loss of Noel, the wife of my grandson. There are no words for the amazingly good people in this world whose lives are ended by cancer. I ask myself one question so many times a day: why?
Awareness Is Key
My darlings, my advice is to pick up your phones and make your necessary appointments. Call your young adult children and educate them about cancer awareness. Pass this message onto your friends because cancer knows no age, no nationality, no class. It rears its ugly head unexpectedly.
With today’s progressive medical technology and the great scientists around the world, you owe it to yourself to do your part to be proactive as you can about your health. If you take care of your health, you have a huge chance of beating cancer instead of it beating you.
I know many of you are afraid to see your doctor. My advice as a cancer survivor is to feel your fear and do it anyway!
Please share my musings with friends and family who may benefit from this story about awareness. Most importantly, join me on Facebook or comment below to share your stories of surviving and thriving! Above all else, Honey Good is about women like us connecting and supporting one another.
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