Turn the Page

Sometimes starting a new chapter in life can be good for cancer survivors.

“Don’t close the book when bad things happen in your life. Just turn the page and start a new chapter!” Those are the words of La Toya Jackson, which I feel exemplify my life since receiving a cancer diagnosis.

All of us are scared after learning about the disease, which for some may be chronic or deadly. We are fearful for our future and wonder if we will even have one. Few of us truly have any idea of the affect that a diagnosis of an insidious disease like cancer will have on our lives. However, most of us figure out how to turn the page.

I was incredibly naïve when I was told my cancer was incurable, but treatable. I thought I would continue to work the two part-time jobs I loved and just go on with life. I was used to working 10-hour days and nothing was going to stop me now, right? I would just keep on trucking.

But we all know that treatments become a way of life. My friend views her cancer as another job. The treatments, doctor appointments, blood draws, fatigue and other side effects prevent us from going back to where we were before, and so it does become a full-time job.

I have friends who choose not to go on as before. They quit their high-powered jobs to do something that they love, or they turn to survivor programs and visit with patients. Some retire and move to a place where they have always wanted to be. Each one of them, along with their family and friends, started a new chapter.

For a couple of years, things remained the same for me. Then I was forced to quit one part-time job. I kept teaching because I figured that after class I could go home and rest. I had been voted Faculty of the Year by my students after my diagnosis, and most of them had no idea I was fighting cancer.

I increasingly got one infection after another and had to start a harsh new chemotherapy. My oncologist gently told me I had to quit teaching. When I got home by myself, I kicked, I screamed, I cried — I was angry. Why would something I love be taken away from me so cruelly? I already had medical bills out the wazoo, had to downsize to a much smaller place because of money and had already given up one job. Why did I have to do this too?

But Jackson was right. It was time for me to turn the page. I began writing, revised my old worn out website, published a couple of books and began to blog for CURE®. I love it even more than teaching. And by doing it, I am teaching to a worldwide audience as people contact me from all over the globe. A bonus — if I don’t feel like getting out of bed early, I don’t have to!

Changes happen to us at every phase of life, not just with cancer. I can tell you not to kick and scream, but then I would be a hypocrite. What I can say with certainty is that if you just turn the page, a new chapter that you never dreamed of will emerge.