Surgery day. January 4, 2008.
It was surreal at the time. It’s still surreal 11 years later.
The stage 2 adenocarcinoma that had invaded my intestinal tract needed to be removed. It was a type of cancer that rarely shows symptoms. And indeed, it went unnoticed, but for a few days in the summer of 2007 when I didn’t feel “quite right”.
Jan believed something was up at the time, and insisted I get checked out. She was right.
A 15-minute examination confirmed our worst fears. “You have cancer!”
If I hadn’t followed her advice, I would not be writing this blog. A perfect reason to LIVE thankfully!
Even though it was stage 2, the surgeon said there was an 85% chance of a cure given my age, my otherwise healthy self, and the current standard-of-care. When I explained this to my daughter, Tori, she told me very matter-of-factly, “Well, go get cured!”
If I wanted a great motivator to keep living, that was it. A powerful reason to LIVE strong!
As I got closer to my surgery date, Ben was quite anxious and jumpy, even experiencing seizures which was not typical. It struck me that he was worried about how things would turn out for me.
Why wouldn’t he be? He really had no opportunity to voice his anxiety but that didn’t mean he didn’t experience it.
So one evening, I found a quiet time to sit with him and go through what had happened, how I was going to have surgery. I said that he already knew all about major surgeries since he had been through them before but this was all new to me.
I told him that he was the model I was going to follow.
How he was always as tough as nails to get through them.
How he had shown me that it’s possible to overcome anything. And that it was all going to work out.
Through that whole conversation, he looked at me so, so intently. It was as if he had been waiting to have this conversation for months, even though I was doing all of the talking.
At the end of it, he gave two double-eye winks – his trademark sign of acknowledgement and that he was OK. Moments later, I felt a huge weight lifted from me and Ben seemed relieved. A give-me-chills reason to LIVE strong!
Fast forward to March of 2018. The same surgeon who gave me an 85% of being cured eagerly sent me on my way after another clear colonoscopy.
“Come back in 5 years!” (It had been every 2-3 years until now). A jump-for-joy reason to LIVE thankfully!
To be honest, this day, January 4, brings quite a jumble of feelings, from disbelief that I’m a cancer survivor, to worry that it may someday recur, to gratitude of how life has unfolded.
The reasons to LIVE strong and thankfully are all around us every day. Keep looking and you’ll find them.
Reach out if you want help finding them!