I went from being an avid runner to running from information about my lung cancer. But now I embrace my diagnosis and am an active participant in my care.
“You have cancer.”
Anyone who has heard those words remembers exactly what they were doing and what they were feeling the minute they got that news. Some say the room was spinning. Others say they went numb. Others just cried.
I was standing in a classroom where I work, free from children, while the teacher ate his lunch; he tells me the shock was clear on my face. It was a Thursday. (I was born on a Thursday. I gave birth on a Thursday. What is it with Thursdays?)
I tried to follow what my doctor was saying.God bless him, he had a plan. My appointments were already set up for the following Monday.
I tried hard to assimilate the words “oncologist” and “biopsy” into my new world. When I hung up, the teacher asked if I was OK. “No…I have lung cancer! And I just ran five miles!” I was already trying to reconcile the “runner-me” with the ‘”lung cancer-me.”It felt impossible.
I have changed so much since that Thursday three years ago.For the first year, I took medical information in tiny bites. I tried to avoid looking at my scans. I did not do much research because the statistics were scary. I did whatever my team told me to do without question, and I did my best to continue running, always comparing my new times and distances to the runner I was.
I grieved that former runner. Every day.
Then I found Alkpositive.org, a group of people with the same typelung cancer as me. I learned that knowledge is our secret weapon against our deadly intruder. I learned that more research equals more life. I learned that there are lots of healthy, active people with lung cancer — because anyone with lungs can get cancer.
These days, I examine each scan. I ask questions of other fighters, my oncologist, my medical team. I have even found a way to run, although I don’t run to win races; I now run to stay strong, so I am in the best shape to fight the cancer when it spreads. I know all my options for when that happens. There is no room for fear, where faith and knowledge live.
When people ask me how have I changed since my diagnosis, I say that I am smarter. I know there are bad days; I know I can tolerate the treatment side effects; I know all about mutant genes.
I found my strength and courage. Even so, I will never be one of those people who claim that cancer has a silver lining. I view it as an enemy, a thief. But I am grateful for every day. And I do live with the hope that the amazing research being done will help me live a long time — and maybe even beat the enemy within.
I have finally reconciled with the person I am now, to the person I was. I have accepted this new life.
This post was written and submitted by Suzanne Adriana Remington. The article reflects the views of Suzanne Adriana Remington and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.
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