So it has been two years since I was diagnosed with Lymphoma, specifically mine is a cancer of the white blood cells. The diagnosis came exactly one week after my 28th birthday. I wrote the following a few weeks after the diagnosis, when the pain, anger, and frustration were still keen and fresh. Since then, my attitude towards my cancer has changed, probably because I have responded well to treatments, but I thought you might like to see what I wrote in the days following that afternoon in the Doctor’s office. Although my attitude towards my cancer has become more positive, the love I have for people and my desire to live with no regrets has not. I will always view time as the most valuable currency.
How Being Diagnosed with Cancer Changed Me
Every second I rock my six month old baby to sleep is precious. I look into his face and wonder, “Will I ever see him walk? Will I hear his first word? Kick a ball? Drive a car?” I don’t know.
Those 20 minutes of snuggling with my four year old before bed used to seem so long, with so many other things that need to be done, but now it feels so short. He asks me why I cry. Instead of telling him I say, “I love you. Don’t ever forget how much I love you.”
Every tear my husband has shed since the diagnosis is pain and a comfort in one. Every touch feels like the first time.
The people I love very most in my life become more real because death becomes more real. I never know when someone I love will be snatched away. At the same time they feel more distant because you are in a cancer box that no one can understand until they are in that box too, and you really don’t want that to happen to anyone else.
Every day is now tainted by cancer. As I do every day things like cutting vegetables or doing laundry, I hear the words, “I have cancer, I have cancer,” over and over ringing in my ears. When I used to go to sleep at night I would think about my day and my kids and my love, but now I think about cancer.
Past memories that used to be free of cancer are now tainted by the realization that the cells in my body had already begun the process of trying to kill me.
I hate driving by those Inspirational Cancer billboards on the road because it just reminds me even more that I have cancer, as if I forgot.
Every second becomes valuable. Wasting time doing things of no consequence is not an option.
I feel betrayed by my own body. I consider myself very healthy, eating well and working out and I have had my fair share of obscure and difficult health issues. But none of them feel like the betrayal this does. My own cells, the cells that make up my entire body have turned on me and become malignant.
I didn’t want to tell even my closest friends, because I don’t want them to worry and somehow if they know it becomes more real. Also, I don’t want them to think of me differently. I don’t want to be fragile. And I definitely don’t want anyone to tell me they are sorry or ask me if I need anything. I don’t need your sympathy.
It changes my whole body image. Suddenly that ten pounds of baby weight I need to lose becomes trivial.
It makes me think differently about heath care. Everyone deserves the chance to receive lifesaving medical care. No one deserves to die the slow and painful death of cancer or any other disease because they can’t afford medicine, in this country or around the world.
It makes me so grateful that I live in a day and age where cancer is treatable where it is not a death sentence.
It makes me thank my Heavenly Father every day that he put people in my path so I could get diagnosed in the early stages of this disease.
It makes me even more grateful for all the blessings I have been given.
It makes me grateful for the decisions I have made in the past to put the things that I really think are important first. I have no regrets about my life decisions.
Being diagnosed with cancer has given me hope and love: hope for the future and love for the present.