One year ago today, I received a phone call that changed not only my life, but the lives of people around me. One year ago today my doctor told me I had rectal cancer. And he didn't stop there. He laid it all on me, the radiation and chemo, the surgery, the ostomy, more chemo. At the time, of course, it was overwhelming, but looking back, I'm so glad he didn't mince words and make it pretty. It wasn't pretty and I don't think putting a bow on this package would have helped things at all.
So. A lot has happened over the past year. A friend recently asked me how I'm doing, emotionally. Mentally. Most of the time I just feel normal. When I really sit down and think about things, I still feel shell shocked. Sometimes I feel angry that this happened. Sometimes I feel peaceful. It seems the stew of emotions simmers away, and different feelings bubble up from time to time. I suspect that's normal. I'm proud that I was able to hold it together (most of the time) and get through what I needed to do to be healthy again.
I feel changed. If that makes sense.
In my life now, I'm trying to bounce back but with a twist. I'm trying to be more patient with people, more understanding. I'm trying to enjoy the minutes, hours, days. I'm trying not to let the little things get me down too much. Am I always successful? Of course not. Life is a work in progress, and I get to make mistakes too.
I'm trying to be open about my cancer and my ostomy and hoping that it helps others. I certainly can't tell people how to handle their own situations, but I can share how I handled mine. Or at times, how I didn't handle it. There were many tears of frustration, sadness, and loss this year. I mostly cried at night in the arms of my husband so I wouldn't upset my children, my family, my friends. It's okay to mourn the life I had before. But it's also okay to embrace the life I have now.
I got to meet some amazing people along this journey. My doctors. The wound ostomy care nurses. I found out that I have amazing friends, friends who are family. I found out the strength of people around me, strength of my family, strength of my husband. I saw the resiliency of my children.
So yeah. My cancerversary. I'm thankful that I get to wake up and enjoy life. I'm hopeful for the future, as scary as the unknown is sometimes.
Go give people you care about a big hug today. I know I will.