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March 28- My three year “cancerversary”

April 5, 2015

“Fighting cancer sometimes requires you to have the speed of a panther, the endurance of an elephant and the patience of a saint.”-Sat Hon (my Qi Gong Master)

Three years ago today I heard those three words- “YOU HAVE CANCER.” Three years ago – in some moments it feels like yesterday and in some moments it feels like it has been forever.  When I recently found this quote written by Sat Hon, I realized that it embodies so much of this journey I have been traveling on.  Each phrase, equally powerful and equally valid.

The speed of a panther– With each test, each symptom, each progression of this disease, each regression-each step-there are decisions I have to make so quickly.  I listen to numerous opinions, I read countless articles, I weigh hundred of pros and cons, I sort through piles of research.  I do all of this knowing time is not a luxury I have.  I can not sit back and wait.  I can not “put off decisions until tomorrow’, I have to choose a path without much hesitation and then convince myself to never look back with regret on the choices I have made.

The endurance of an elephant- In one way, I have been blessed. I am STILL HERE. After three years, I am STILL HERE. To be given three months to live and to be here three years later, I am blessed. The curse is- for me, the odds of me ever being completely “cancer-free” is very unlikely.  I came to terms with this a long time ago and I try to view my disease more like a chronic illness that “flares up” from time to time.  This mindset helps keep being Stage IV in perspective for me. Yet there  are moments when thinking of managing this disease long term can be completely exhausting and equally overwhelming. There are moments when I am positive I do not have the stamina to keep going, when I am positive I do not have the strength to endure any more treatments, when I am positive my body is too exhausted to keep holding on and positive my soul is ready to be released. Then I remind myself of all I have already endured, I remind myself that my body is remarkably strong despite it all, and I remind myself that my soul is incredibly powerful and will survive this no matter what. Then I finally have the strength to  remind myself, gong on is the only choice and I can endure whatever comes my way.

The patience of a saint- I am not sure where to begin when contemplating patience in regards to my cancer. My patience has been tested in so many ways and so many times.  There is such urgency with this disease, yet there is so much waiting- waiting for tests, waiting for results, waiting for treatments to show any signs of success, waiting for clinical trials to come onto the radar, waiting to find out if I am eligible for these trials….and this is just brushing the surface of the meaning of patience. For me, the hardest aspect of patience, is being patient with myself.  Being patient when my body doesn’t recover as quickly as I want it to, being patient when my body can not keep up with what my mind wants it to do, being patient with myself when making decisions and ultimately being patient with myself when trying to figure out the next line of defense.

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