As I mentioned Friday, I was diagnosed with both melanoma and lung cancer in the same day. On top of that, two and a half months later, I survived a car crash. 2007 I proved I was a survivor.
It was too much. No, I didn’t go into a depression where my life was put on hold. I did everything I did before but with a huge black cloud hanging over my head. I am welling up with tears even as I write this -- seven years later. These three events and the fear of death, emotionally exhausted me. I had to meet with my doctors every three months for a cat scan for three years and every six months for two years to check to see if the “big C” had returned. Even now that I’m “free,” I still have to have a cat scan on an annual basis.
The word “cancer” ran through my mind daily for five years. My husband had married and loved this fun-loving, carefree gal who loved life and adventure and always made lemonade out of lemons. She vanished before his eyes. I would confess my feelings of fear to Shelly, “I am so sad and terrified that it will come back” I’d say. He would always respond, “You are so lucky. You survived. I love you and I need you.” He was and still is my rock. He is my knight in shining armor.
I am sharing my story because I know there are those of you who have experienced the same emotional pain and fear and unfortunately, some of you will in the future. I think the most important part of healing emotionally is to let your emotions flow and protect your health. Be true to your self. Let yourself feel the fear. Some of you will handle your situation and your emotional health better than others. I handled my life by doing the following:
- Let yourself mourn.
- Expect emotional pain.
- Express your feelings to those who love you.
- Cry when you want to cry.
- Get outside psychological help if you are in need.
- Accept your vulnerability.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions.
- Keep busy.
- Eat healthy.
- Enjoy helping others.
- And the most important in my mind: allow yourself to simply be.
As I look back over the past seven years, I must tell you, I have lived my life to its fullest. I allowed myself to grieve over my health. I lived my daily life forcing myself to see the positives. I did not stop doing anything. I studied and had my Bat Mitzvah. I became a writer and started GrammaGood.com. I was still 100% involved with my children, grandchildren, my parents, friends and my husband. I traveled as far away as Syria and Lebanon. I lived life. I was not about to let this keep me down.
Of course I wish none of the above had happened. Having lung cancer and melanoma put me through one of the toughest challenges of my life. I know I’m lucky. Today I am cancer free.
Cancer changes you. I am a more introspective woman. I do what fulfills me as long as I am not selfish. I have learned to say no. I am adverse to conflict and rid myself of all toxicity. I make better choices. I realize my time is more valuable to me than ever before. I never forget to smell the flowers. I appreciate the smallest things. My family always comes first. My husband is always the center of my realm. I love – a lot.
I have been tested. I survived, both physically and emotionally. I could not ask for more. I am forever grateful.
To those of you who have experienced the “big C” please share your stories with me or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I am here help you and give you advice because I have walked through the rain, learned lessons and want to be of help. We all face life’s challenges. The way we handle them affects our lives and the lives of those who love us.
Do something GOOD today: No one ever promised us a rose garden. We have to plant our own.