A Daily Routine and the Help of Friends Got Me Through Cancer

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When I looked back on calendars and journals from my time with cancer, I was surprised to see that it was incredibly mundane.

When a person first hears that they have cancer, it is, of course, a life-changing event. I have had three different experiences with this.

The first time, in 1999, I was just waking up in the recovery room after a biopsy which everyone was hoping and praying would be benign. I was groggily staring at the ceiling when the surgeon's face appeared above me, about three inches away from my nose. “It’s malignant!” he shouted and quickly left the room.

My mind reeled with what this meant for my future. Silently I waited there while a few tears trickled out. The recovery nurse (blessed angel) came close and with a few words changed my complete outlook.

“Now, honey, there are many things that can be done to help you,” she said. I do not remember too much more about this experience, except that I learned that words and tone can make an enormous difference in giving someone hope and the strength to face the future.

When I had recovered enough to return to church, another pivotal event in my journey with cancer occurred. A dear older friend walked up to me and simply said: “Take my arm.” I gently placed my hand on her arm, and she went on to explain that she had experienced a cancer diagnosis many years before and was here as a living testimony of one who made it back to good health. This had a profound effect on my thinking. Yes, I could make it, too, no matter how bleak the prognosis.

This exchange has been repeated several times, as I have tried to encourage hope and perseverance in others facing a similar challenge. “Take my arm!”

Over my lifetime, I faced two other cancer diagnoses, also with surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, and have now been well for over 12 years.

I do not think about cancer very much unless something reminds me of it. Well, I guess the scars on my chest are hard to miss in the mirror, but I am at peace with this.

close up of someone writing in a journal

The journals and calendars from Teresia's cancer days were more mundane than she'd expect them to be.

Recently, I have been going through some old calendars and journals and was surprised with what I found. I was looking for some emotional words regarding the journey, but really did not find much — just notes about doctors' appointments and how I felt tired sometimes. Even though I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I was amazingly matter of fact about it. There were many more notes about school and church events, getting my daughter to various music lessons and the daily trivia of work responsibilities.

I believe that keeping to a routine, doing as much as physically possible, and trusting in God and the help of friends and loved ones got me through some extremely challenging times. I learned to let go of some things, which really were not important, and be less obsessive about “the small stuff.” I have continued to look for the beauty and wonder around me, never stopped learning, and try to help others whenever I can.

A doctor once told me that I didn’t have an expiration date stamped on the bottom of my foot, and nobody could exactly predict the outcome of my treatment. I have taken this to heart and try to live my life in the best way I can, no matter what happens in the future.

This post was written and submitted by Teresia Harding. The article reflects the views of Harding and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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