When I came home from the third consecutive week-long hospital stay back in early 2015, I came home to that little wood sign sitting by my recovery lazy-boy. Heather’s friends got it for us to motivate me to focus on the fact that I could beat cancer rather than fear cancer.
It didn’t work… initially.
It took a while for me to not fear this disease and believe those words. I ugly cried practically every night. I would walk into the kids room at night and whisper in their ears to “always be good for your mom” or “know that I’ll always love you.” Words that admitted defeat. I would lay in bed in pain thinking of what I’d miss out on in my kids life or what people would say at my funeral. I was struggling to find any hope in this seemingly hopeless situation.
Hope slowly came.
I think it initially started when Heather’s dad and step mom supported any decision we made as far as treatment was concerned. It gave me a sense of relief that I’d have full support with whatever methods I chose to fight cancer. Why did that give me hope? I’m a people pleaser… so much so that I was worried to call my oncologist and tell him that I wanted to stop chemo in the fear I may offend him. I want people to like me at all times. This was also around chemo #6 or #7. The rounds were getting worse, but it was still tolerable. I was still able to help around the house and with the kids up until chemo #8. I could tell they were getting worse and Heather and I always said, “if you feel like chemo is killing you, we stop.”
When we stopped chemo my world flipped upside down.
I want to be clear that I am not trying to tell anyone how to fight cancer. I chose conventional and tried my best to handle the side effects and how it made me feel. I couldn’t get through what is widely considered by oncologists as a “very tolerable chemotherapy.” Our bodies are all unique and we all are going to fight battles differently. The point I’m trying to make is I knew I couldn’t fight this with chemo anymore. And doing this every two weeks until I lost the fight isn’t something I wanted to go through.
I felt peace for the first time since my diagnosis when I made the decision to fight this naturally with alternative therapies. I had the research. I had the support. I had the right doctors to help guide me. I understood how the natural supplements and alternative therapies would help me and I knew how to super charge my immune system to help my body destroy cancer.
I had a plan that I believed in. That’s what was missing from the beginning. If we fight battles we don’t believe we can win, then we won’t win. This is true for anything we go through. From playing sports to excelling at work to fighting disease – you have to have faith that you can win.
I stumbled upon this quote recently from Laurence Gonzales’ book “Deep Survival”.
“In order to survive, one must surrender, yet at the same time not give in. There must be a sheer raw determination to win; yet an acceptance of probably losing as well, which paradoxically gives you an edge. And if you can muster a playful spirit on top of it all, well then you’re just golden.” – Laurence Gonzales
It sums up exactly what I’ve gone through this year. I went through the acceptance of possibly losing. I surrendered to the idea that everyone is terminal and we aren’t promised tomorrow. And now I’m just focused on surviving and beating this disease every day with a smile on my face.
It isn’t always easy, but there’s a big difference now.
I’m no longer afraid of cancer. I have hope.
I am greater than cancer.