When you’ve heard the word recurrence as often as I have over the past five years, pausing life for cancer is not going to happen.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage 1B cervical cancer. I underwent pre-surgery chemotherapy to shrink the 7 cm tumor on my cervix, a radical hysterectomy and because one cancerous lymph node was found during surgery, I had additional chemo treatments and 28 rounds of external pelvic radiation.
Ten months later my cancer recurred. A second surgery was needed — a pelvic exenteration. This surgery removed my bladder, colon and caused me to no longer have a ‘functioning’ vagina or rectum.
In 2013, I then heard the word metastasize when my cancer spread to my liver.
You know what word phrase I would prefer to hear? No evidence of disease (NED) or cancer-free. However, there is now a determination that comes with my recurrence. I am determined to keep moving forward.
My life goals have changed drastically. I am no longer motivated to climb the corporate ladder or amass great wealth or travel the world. I now strive to keep my inner joy and to always be present. This sounds simple enough, but with a recurrence, even the easy stuff can be challenging.
But I asked myself, how do I want to fill my days? Do I want to fill them with fear and anxiety? Or would I be happier focusing on the things that make me smile? I choose to surround myself with good, loving people who help me smile.
I’ve been back in chemotherapy several times and I even spent over a year NED. But I’m no stranger to cancer and chemo side effects, both physical and emotional. Some days are easier than others, but I’m kind of addicted to the sunrises and sunsets I take in each day, and I want more.
I have also found my advocacy voice and sharing my cancer story has become part of my life. Being able to reach someone, helps put my life in perspective. Today is more important then yesterday or tomorrow.
Follow Carol’s adventures on her blog, Cancer Avenger.
5 thoughts on “Making the Most of a Recurrence”
Carol, thank you for your sunny bright message to start the new year! Here’s to giving you the strength to continue to love, live, and enjoy many more ? sunrises!! Love you, girl!
I also was diagnosed with stage 1b cancer, and I also have had multiple recurrences and had a pelvic exenteration. May we both hear the letters NED for good! Prayers for you!
Thank you for sharing your story. I Am in remission with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Enjoying every day I can and trying not to dwell on the facts that it will come back. Glad you are giving it a good fight. Sending prayers.
Hooray for you, Cancer Avenger Goddess! I love you!
Father God I place this recurrence of cancer in your hands. Father you and only you can heal this. I asked that you reveal yourself to her with a miraculous healing. Remove every cancer cell from her body and make it whole again as it was when you created her. I ask that you have mercy on her and cover her with the blood of Jesus. In Jesus precious and almighty name Amen.