A Time to Live

“When your cancer returns, remember we are here to help you.  You are not alone in this, Stacey.”

Such reassuring words were never so spoken so timely.  I’ve heard those words before – many, many times before.  And I know I am not alone.  I have my family and my friends, my former students and my social network friends.  Everyone plays an important role in my recovery from cancer.  I’ve heard, “we are here with you”, “let me know if there is anything you need”, and “I’m a car-ride away”.  For some reason, however, it was Dr. Singh and my nurse Candy who finally drove the message home for me yesterday.  Why did it take me so long to really hear that I am not alone?  I don’t know.  But it was like the words broke through the ice dam of my brain, weakened by the affirmation that I am still “good”.  “Everything looks good.  Your blood looks good – your CA levels are within the normal range.  You look great.”  Oh!  Such words would never sound so sweet!

I had convinced myself that the cancer was back.  I was sure of it.  And I did not want to be caught off guard again.  Not this time.  The shock of being told that you have Stage IV ovarian is nearly up there with the declaration itself.

“Are you sure, Dr. Singh?  I have this pain in my side that comes and goes but it feels like it may be one of those “seedings” that I had across my abdomen.”

“Stacey, it really doesn’t sound like anything to be worried about.  If it were one of those seedings, you would feel pain all the time and you would not be able to sit up.”

“Well, I don’t have pain all the time – and I can sit up well.”

“If you like I can order a CT, but then we will forever be chasing shadows when it may lead to nothing.  You need to be sure to live your life and not focus on the numbers or tests.”

She was right.  It was/ is time to live.  I have a team.  I have the resources in place for when I do get sick – if I get sick again.  I have to life.

“Do you think I should get a CT, Dr. Singh?”

“I would not recommend it.”

“Then I won’t.  But what I think I do need is a social worker.  I have to learn to live.  I cannot keep doing this roller-coaster every three months.  It stresses me out too much and I lose days to anxiety.  I can’t keep “sliming” my friends a week before my appointments.  It is just not fair. ”

“I can do that.  Many people use social workers.  You have been through a lot – your surgery was extensive.  You are only normal to feel this way.”

“I’d like to go back to work, but I am ready.  I don’t feel I can handle work yet.  I think I am better physically and maybe now it it time to work on my mental health.”

“That’s a good idea.”

And with that – I gave Dr. Singh a hug and we parted ways -for now.

I don’t know what happened differently that time.  But I left feeling calm, reassured that I had a “family” at Royal Victoria Hospital. My family would be there for me, always.  I belonged to them and they to me.  My success and recovery was theirs.  My illness was also theirs.  My joy – was their joy.  It was time – it is time – to give back.  For the first time, ever, I decided that I was ready to give back.  I decided to look into volunteering at the cancer clinic.  Maybe serve coffee?  Maybe bring juice?  I could do that.  I am ready.  I am not alone.  It took me a long time to realize that.  I am part of a community of survivors whose lives include cancer.  I am a fighter.  I am strong.  For the first time since the beginning of this very intense journey, I have realized that I am much stronger than I ever thought I could be.  I do not stand alone.

I am officially in my 9th month of remission and feeling like I have the world by the tail.  I love life.  I am grateful for everyone and everything in it.

Now – it is time to live.

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About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
This entry was posted in acceptance, advice, appreciation, attitude, cancer, Cancer Journey, Dr. Singh, remission, Royal Victoria Hospital. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to A Time to Live

  1. Yes! Live! Joyfully! What wonderful news Stacey!

  2. April says:

    I’m happy to hear you are still in remission. I had to have help dealing with my diagnosis and to learn how to live between ct scans. What I had the hardest time with was facing my mortality. I am so glad that you have decided to seek help dealing with the mental part of all of this. The only thing we have control of is how we take care of our bodies and minds. It sounds like you are heading on a great path! I’m celebrating with you!

    • inmycorner says:

      Oh, I’m happy (and not) to hear that you had the same issues. Indeed – I am having issues facing “life” actually. Better today. It’s the responsibility of living my life well that challenges me. I need to do something meaningful – but finding what that means is so open! I am on a good path – and open to helping others for sure as I think you have done for me! Thanks, April, for your candor. Good to know you know how to celebrate so well — and often — at least that’s what I do!

  3. pepe says:

    Ahh..Stacey that is really a good news….time for celebration and to live well…
    You have suffered and endured enough, now is time for real celebration..really happy for you..take care then and live well..:-)

  4. sharechair says:

    yes….. in order to enjoy your days, you have to silence those recurring thoughts in your head. I think a little work on the mind-side of things is a fantastic idea! Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Congrats on such a great report!!!

  5. Gallivanta says:

    Brilliant news. And having the support of a social worker sounds like a wonderful plan.

    • inmycorner says:

      Thank-you, my friend! And I guess that’ll be the topic of the posts in the future – – so we shall see together if the plan unfolds as wonderful. grin. But I tend to agree that there is much hope!

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