No one wants to hear it–cancer–but it’s a nasty part of reality. Sometimes there are signs or warnings, and sometimes it just blindsides you.

It’s been forty-five days since my diagnosis.

I like to have all the pieces of a puzzle before I talk about things–especially something like this. My dad’s loss from cancer was hard. I remembered how awful everything was following his diagnosis–the questions, the uncertainty, the fear.

I’ve relived every second of his last weeks over and over since my family practitioner first mentioned her concern in early February, literally days after my thirty-eighth birthday.

I’ve faced just about every fear I have in the weeks since. Invasive procedures, an unexpected hospital stay, complications and allergic reactions, medications, discussing treatment plans with a team of doctors that flung around heart-stopping phrases like five-year-survival-rate and long-term surveillance like it’s normal. To them, I guess it is.

But it only reminded me of my dad’s failed treatment.


Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

It’s uncommon for someone my age to be diagnosed with this specific cancer, apparently. I almost missed being diagnosed because my insurance initially refused the diagnostic tests that would confirm what my doctors suspected, stating I was “too young” and to wait almost a decade.

A decade, y’all.

Fortunately, my awesome team of doctors pushed back and the procedure was approved at the last minute, literally hours before it was scheduled.

In the early weeks everything moved quickly: specialist exams, bloodwork, two (minor) surgeries exactly a week apart, a CT scan. The initial biopsy confirming our fears took only a few days. It all happened with rapid-fire abruptness. My life changed practically overnight.


Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash

The second round of results took longer–over a week. A long, agonizing week. The third round of testing took another two weeks.

But the waiting was the worst part. I’m a writer (duh) so my imagination goes to scary, dark places.

My stellar team had to confer about the next steps, adding in specialists from Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa because there’s no real protocol for someone my age. It’s all an educated guess. 

Something everyone wants to hear, right?

But I have an awesome team and thanks to my observant family practitioner, whom I absolutely adore, and my badass specialists and their fierce staff who kept pushing the insurance company despite their rejections–I’ll be okay. It was caught early.

That means no chemo, no radiation; the surgeries got it all. But I’ll be watched like a hawk every year for the rest of my life, starting with another round of tests in six months.

And another six-months to a year after that.

And another…

But I know how fortunate I am–intimately–and I’m determined to keep the beast at bay.

I’ve changed my diet, practically eliminating soda, reducing sugar, eating green stuff on the regular.  I’m exercising…all right, trying to exercise. I get steps in and have various unforgiving electronics that remind me to get my ass away from my desk periodically and take a walk outside. (Does anyone know how to build a treadmill desk?) I’ll get back in the pool once Mother Nature remembers we’re in Florida and it’s supposed to be hot here.

I’m learning how to better manage my stress and basically looking at my life under a brand-new shiny lens.

And although my dad only had eighty-eight days from his first surgery to his death, I know I’ll have longer.

I’ll have the second chance he never did.

And I’m not wasting a moment.


Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

So, guys, take care of yourselves: eat green things, drink water, go for a walk, and for god’s sake, visit your doctor for an annual physical. Mine literally saved my life.

And as Mr. Rogers (the coolest dude ever, IMO) says, “There is only one like you in the whole world.” What have you done to take care of yourself, lately? Stopped drinking soda? (That shit’s hard.) Running? (That shit’s also hard.)

Let’s talk, share notes. Because we are totally worth it.


1 Comment

Laura · April 24, 2018 at 8:17 pm

All my love and respect for you, mama. Well done and well said as always. Enjoy feeling strong.

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