Six Years Later

I am a lucky person. Very.  Rarely a week goes by that you don’t hear about someone being diagnosed with cancer and about others’ who don’t survive. But, I was. And, I did. That makes me a very lucky person and I don’t take being a survivor for granted. Ever.

Now I know I had the “good cancer” – thyroid.  But, let me tell you there is no good cancer.  No sentence that has cancer as one of the words will ever be “good”.  (Correction: The only acceptation would be if the sentence read: Scientists have a 100% cure for ALL cancers.)

As many of you know, I am a consummate educator. That means I like to share life lessons.  Let me tell you what I have learned six years and seven months after my 7-plus hour surgery for papillary thyroid cancer.

  1. Don’t get lax with taking care of yourself.  Go to your regular scheduled medical tests. Listen to your body and seek help when you feel that “something isn’t quite right”.
  2. Delete the toxic things in your life.  That may mean bags of chips, soda or some people. All can make your life challenging and your health compromised.
  3. Keep a journal or a blog.  The big “C” is too hard to keep to yourself.  You can’t do this journey alone. So, don’t.  Moreover, you shouldn’t  rely solely on friends and families. Some of the heavy lifting with improving your health has to come from within yourself. It is amazing how strong one becomes when it comes to doing this kind of “lifting”.
  4. A sense of humor is as important as anything else that keeps you going. Laughter may be your second weapon in your arsenal of getting healthy.  Or at least a key “player”.
  5. Pay it forward.  Your path with cancer will never be the same as another person’s. However, your experiences may be helpful with the education of another. So, share what you have learned and be willing to sometimes switch roles and be a student.  I for one freely share that Johns Hopkins Hospital and Drs. Ralph Tufano and David Cooper were KEY to my diagnosis, survival and continued health.  I will be forever grateful the them and their respective teams at JHH.
  6. Reward yourself.  Each year when I leave JHH after my annual tests I stop at the hospital gift shop. If my tests are negative (good news) then I get to buy myself a gift.  After six years of prodding from tests and lots of “negative”, I have amassed a number of JHH t-shirts, hoodies, bags and this year a birthstone ring.  (One can only have so many shirts and hoodies!)
  7. Celebrate. In the last six years I have learned to celebrate the small and large milestones of life.  Every completion of a treatment, an anniversary, birthday, family event, milestone – they all get celebrated!

 

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below!

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