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Receiving a brain cancer diagnosis was scary, but it taught me to be more forgiving to others and proud of what I have accomplished.
On March 5, 2018, my family physician gave me the news.
"Your MRI shows a mass, I'd like to send you to the University of Michigan hospital for follow-up."
So, I traveled to U of M Rogel Cancer Center where, after some testing, a biopsy and more testing, I found out I had an inoperable stage 3 oligodendroglioma, a cancer of the nervous system that typically occurs in the brain or spinal cord.
I’ve learned a lot since that day, four and a half years ago when I received my diagnosis.
I've learned that therapists can't be sure what function you will get back, or when it will come back, and doctors can't be sure how long you will live; they’ll just guess based on "typical" patients.
I've learned you don't really know who your friends are, and most importantly, I've learned what I am capable of.
I'm capable of forgiveness. I've forgiven those who have distanced themselves from me due to my diagnosis because it's not easy to see the new me. I forgive those who mutter under their breath "she doesn't look handicapped" when we're parked in a handicapped parking spot — brain cancer can be subtle in its appearance. I forgive myself for getting frustrated with my lack of energy, my short-term memory loss and my lack of sleep.
I've learned to be proud of what I have been able to accomplish: I've walked a 5K, gardened, drawn and painted. I've joined a cancer support group. I've reached out to those that need advice or kind words.
But my biggest accomplishment is that I have survived. That woman who was scared beyond belief when the surgeon said "most people last about three years" has learned how to live in the time she has. I have learned to enjoy the view of the sunrise when I can't sleep, to relax in the peace of a quiet evening to calm my mind and to be proud of what I've accomplished.
My advice to other survivors is this: Be proud to be a survivor, be it for three days or 30 years. Be proud of what you have accomplished and what you are willing to try to do. Don't compare what you do now to what you used to do, or to what others can do. Don't be afraid — live, try new things and set small goals for yourself.
Speaker and life coach Sean Gordon tells us "There is not enough space in your mind for both worry and faith, you must decide which gets to live there."
I choose faith.
In need of faith? Have faith that in the Spring tiny sprouts will emerge from the soil. Have faith that the sun will rise, and the storm will pass. Have faith from seeing a child's eyes light with laughter.
Finally, have faith in yourself. You are so much stronger than you can imagine.
Keep track of your accomplishments, celebrate your failures (at least you tried) and your successes. Fill the space of your life as best you can and know that your living is thriving and inspiring! Try. Accomplish. Reach out. Celebrate. Survive. Thrive.
This post was written and submitted by Jami Millon. The article reflects the views of Jami Millon and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.
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