IT COULD BE WORSE
But please don't tell me that
- •So it's been a few weeks nowI was recently given some ambiguous news about my health. I was diagnosed with what's called stage zero cancer.
- •And it could be worseI know that. I'm actually no stranger to cancer, I've lost two amazing women to it. So I'm well aware that my prognosis could be much, much worse.
- •But it could also be betterAnd if I'm being candid, I wanted it to be better. Despite the fact that stage zero isn't stage five- I didn't want to hear stage anything. I wanted to hear words like benign and be told that I could go home and not worry about anything anymore. The thing is, how do I say that and not sound completely negative?
- •Believe me, I am gratefulThat it isn't stage one or any of those other incredibly scary numbers. When my long time friend got diagnosed, she found out she had stage five. It was awful. It was a year of chemo and pain and fear and hope and then finally, death. But if she were here, I know what she would tell me.
- •That I have a right to be upsetShe was an incredible person. Even towards the end, she never dismissed my "battles". Even after there was no more hope to have, when she was told the cancer was everywhere. When she told me to prepare myself for the worst, she still wanted to hear about me. And I felt guilty for complaining about anything. I mean, how could I be upset about my life when she was dying? But still.
- •I was watching my marriage unravelI was spinning down into a deep depression. And to top it off I was losing a woman I had known since I was nineteen. Who I shared my twenty first bday with. Who threw me my bachelorette party. Who was my bridesmaid, my daughters Godmother, who helped me through every step of my adult life and...and I didn't know what I would do without her. Until she told me.
- •"You will live because I can't"She said. She told me life was too short for me to be so unhappy. She told me not to keep my pain silent. She encouraged me to do whatever it took to live the rest of my life. One week later she was gone. I filed for divorce on the morning of the day she was taken to Hospice. She was gone three days later.
- •I know what she would tell meBut yet it's taken me a few weeks. A month, actually, to be able to list about it. Because I still feel guilty for being upset. Because I know it could be worse. Because I know there are people who will read this and feel like I should just be grateful it isn't worse and move on. Because I'm still coming to terms with what it all means and the decisions I've had to make regarding my health path.
- •I am gratefulTo be able to talk about it. To have friends who are listening and have held my hand through it. To have a group of women in my life who spent an entire day with me after I got the news. To have co-workers who have been more than supportive. To have text messages, phone calls, bottles of wine to be shared with people who care. To have this incredible site to talk about it, filled with people who are amazingly kind when I find myself listing about my life.
- •But there might be daysLike today. When I went to my daughter's cross country meet and wondered if I would get to do this for many years to come. When I've spent the day with my kids and hope that I will get to spend the day with them when they are adults. When the fear of it all starts to feel heavy, when I end up hiding for a while so I can let myself cry about it. Because they have no idea just how scared I really am.
- •So it's been a few weeks nowAnd for the most part I'm okay. Except when I'm not. And I think I'm just going to keep on doing what I do. Which is living every moment as deeply as I can. And giving myself the chance to talk to people who will listen. To not talk when I don't feel like it. To keep on living. As deeply as I can. For as long as I can.