I’ve heard the words “cancer survivor” my whole life. You presume it means someone was diagnosed with cancer, they fought hard, they won! They survived cancer! But do you actually beat cancer? Do you actually ever win?
I’m a breast cancer survivor still trying to survive. Cancer is never really in the past. It lingers there waiting to pounce. It could creep back into my life at any time. Living NED doesn’t feel like I won a battle, it more feels like I got over a huge hurdle. And it feels like an endless track. The only good thing is, someone placed most of the hurdles really low, so they are easier to get over. But it’s still a constant challenge.
I’m never really sure what to tell people when they awkwardly ask “so, are you all good now?” I think most people believe cancer is like getting over a cold. Don’t get me wrong, I know everyone is aware of how serious and scary cancer is, but I think most are just like I was, assuming once you “beat” cancer it was gone. But it’s never gone. Cancer is the rest of my life. I still fear cancer will return everyday. I still silently suffer all the side effects from the drugs I will continue to take for 10 years.
I have 2 choices, I can let cancer control me, or I can control my cancer. It’s really that simple. I have the power to choose how I will live. Will I let fear and anxiety take over? Living with stress will just cause more health issues, that’s proven. Or, will I stand up to cancer. Why stop fighting now? I have the ability to choose my attitude towards my new normal. And I choose to accept it. Instead of asking “why me, why did I get cancer”, I ask myself what cancer has brought to me. What new things have I learned that can help others being diagnosed? What new friendships do I cherish? What things have I discovered about myself? These are all positive things thanks to breast cancer. It sucked, it beat the crap out of me, but I didn’t let it bring me down. Breast cancer may have left my body broken, but I never let it break me. I discovered my strength, bravery and courage. It taught me to enjoy every moment. Bad days make good days brighter. I fought cancer and came out the other side smiling…..that’s winning!..so yes, I beat cancer!