So I just finished up my last touch up surgery a couple of weeks ago. There is always more I could do (so my plastic surgeon tells me), but I'm done. I'm done with the bruises, the general anesthesia, the using up of all my sick and vacation leave. I'm even done with my beloved Percocet. I'm just done.
People keep asking me if life is back to normal. I'm not sure what to say to that. No. My life is never going to be back to normal. I'm different. My family is different. My outlook on life is different. I have new passions and priorities. Cancer will never be gone. It will always be a part of me, and I'm glad for that. I still have my port. I'm going to hang it over my rear view mirror in my car to always remind me of how Cancer changed my life. I don't want to forget a single minute. To wind up my little adventure, I've listed the top 9 things I've learned from Cancer. (Yes, nine is all I could come up with.) I'm sorry that a chronic, life threatening illness was what it took to get these things into my head. Hopefully that won't be the case for you as well.
1. It is extremely difficult to apply mascara when you have only three eyelashes.
2. Considering the number of chemo patients out there, there is a definite market for electric pillowcases. Seriously. Someone could make a killing.
3. Pain and suffering is relative. There is always, ALWAYS someone worse off than you. Count your blessings every day.
4. Most people think that attitude is the number one thing that you need to make it through cancer treatment. They're wrong. It is denial. Clean out that dusty, broom closet in the back of your head. You're going to need it, and it will serve you better than a million "I'm going to beat this!" happy thoughts.
5. Don't assume that just because you have gone through something similar, that you are now an expert. Nothing made me want to rip the head off of someone more that a well meaning stranger that took one look at my scarf and said, "Cancer? Oh, yeah, I've been there, done that."
6. DOCTORS ARE NOT GODS! Their job is to help you determine what your treatment plan is going to consist of. If you have one that tries to lay it out for you without asking you what you think or how you feel about it or blows off any concerns you raise.... RUN.
7. Nurses are angels sent straight from heaven. All of them. Even crazy looking ones named Lorg who have have long, shaggy hair, a beard, and wear hot pink scrubs with little purple fairies all over them and insist on calling you "Madame."
8. Regardless of your beliefs, I don't care if you are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Atheist, we need one another. We have a responsibility to ourselves and the rest of the human race to do our best to relieve suffering wherever we can. Our neighbor's, friend's, co-worker's suffering should be our own. One of my favorite quotes is by George Eliot. She says, "What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?"
9. Cancer rates have literally skyrocketed in the last several decades. And that is in spite of the billions of dollars pouring into the Komen Foundation and other organizations that say they are dedicated to finding a "cure." If you think there is nothing you can do to protect yourself and your children, you're wrong. We need to all take responsibility for our health. No one else will.