My 15-Year Cancerversary

Fifteen precarious, yet wondrous, years have passed since my diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. Today marks a decade and a half of triumphs that have woven their way through the trials and tribulations of living with cancer. While this insidious disease unraveled the spool of time, life and family somehow managed to spin continuously forward. Our older daughters magically grew into adulthood and our youngest transformed into a kindergartner. Ronnie and I have become an integral part of each other, seemingly inhaling and exhaling in unison. The early years of cancer were defined by struggle and fear, the beginning of treatment, the reality of my impending mortality. Every minute became precious. As the plethora of research and new treatments added to my longevity; goals were reached and new dreams added. One available chemotherapy treatment morphed into eight more. Add in a few clinical trials, routine scans, a bit of radiation, several targeted therapies and somehow, despite the terrible odds, we survived.Because of these years with cancer our lives opened up to often unimaginable opportunities...to time that was not thought possible when I was first diagnosed. Days turned into weeks, then months, and years of savoring time, fulfilling dreams, treasuring family, and embracing hope. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, vacations, and even the dawn of another day are cherished. Cancer has given us the opportunity to hold tight this marvelous life with enhanced senses...that only those of us living with the reality of finality know and understand--that is the blessing and the curse of cancer!Through trying times, challenging decisions and moments filled with fear we have prevailed. This past year, I've told my story time and again. From Texas to New York, from the halls of Congress to the red carpet of the Emmys, I've shared that it is possible to live fully in spite of terminal cancer. I've made new friends, cherished old friends and lost dear friends. I've watched proudly as Katie opened her business, cheered loudly as Karlie started her last year of college, and shed tears of joy as I walked Chloe into kindergarten. I've held Ronnie's hand a little tighter and taken full advantage of the wonderful gift of NOW. The words of Tony Snow have never held more truth:"The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise." As my anniversary comes to a close, I am grateful for another day of celebration. My wish for you and yours is the stomach churning, leaping heart feeling of wisdom and joy that is held within every heartbeat.May you realize that every day is a special day. Celebrate today!