As we travel along the road of life, we all have a tendency to mark our lives with various milestones – birthdays, graduations, anniversaries. Earlier this year, I marked my 5 year “cancerversary” – my anniversary of 5 years as a survivor. That was a big one. 5 long years of endless doctor appointments, needle stabs, and scanning ’til I glowed. I’m making good on the promise I had made to share with you when I made it to my next milestone…the 2 year.
Many of my fellow colorectal cancer survivors have been advised by their oncologists that if you make it 2 years after your last therapy (chemo, radiation, or surgery), your chances for recurrence drops significantly and the chances for long-term survival dramatically go up. So here I am folks. Not bad for someone who was once given only an 8% chance of making it this far.
I’m frequently asked how I did it. Aside from the unwavering love and support I had from my family and friends, I had to figure out what worked for me. What encouraged me to keep going. The strength that I found within myself thanks to my husband and my daughter relate to chemo and surgeries, so I’ll write about that in a later post. But there, in the halls of the cancer center, artwork in various mediums are displayed. They rotate out so that it is constantly changing. However, there is one in particular that I have always loved and which has remained constant. It is a driftwood sculpture that sits at the first landing as you ascend from the ground floor to the second floor, right before you 180 to climb the rest of the way. Foolish as it may sound, I always felt like it was made just for me. It was a reminder every time that I saw it, that I could do this. It encouraged me on days I felt like crap to take just one step. And then another. And another. And before I knew it, I was there.
I’ve never thought of myself as an inspiration, but people tell me that I am, so I suppose that I’ll go with it (though it does feel odd). I’ll go on telling my tale in hopes that it will somehow help someone out there. I am grateful to have found you along the way and that I have had the chance to share my words with you during our walk together.