Growing up my family and I never went to the doctor. Instead we had the Amish who would diagnose us and send us home with some herbs and a prescription of rest and relaxation. We lived off the land and made a modest livelihood that didn’t allow for such luxuries as running to the doctor every time we got a stuffed up nose and for the most part we were healthy, strong and live long lives. This eventually lead us to the belief that doctors were in it for the money and therefore I grew up avoiding them at all cost. It wasn’t until my father died of a heart attack that I became obsessed with my personal health and how to preserve it. I had always been a healthy eater and very active person but now I suddenly needed a doctor to tell me that for sure.
Since then I found out that I have asthma, mitral valve prolapse, sever allergies, got a ton of broken bones casted, my life saved in an ER and diagnosed with cervical cancer. None of which really altered the way I live other then after each diagnoses I became a calmer person. I know that calm and “bad news” have never really be friends but for some reason it’s how I cope.
There’s a saying “Worrying is like a rocking chair, You’re moving but you’re not going anywhere”. Worry and stress are often times the root of what our troubles are and end up causing the problem we are trying to cure. After seeing my father die from stress and then watching my best friend beat stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with humor I don’t need a doctor or a book to tell me that positive thinking and calm can be the difference between living and dying. I do however need a doctor to “play god” and do the physical mending. And I’m thankful for my oncologists who blurred the patient / doctor lines and is coming in on a Friday, the day before Christmas, to perform my hysterectomy so that I will have enough time to heal and be better before my Hooligan Race in February. I’m overwhelmed by the depth of understanding and compassion I’ve experienced since I got sick and feel fortunate to be in such great care.
Hearing the words “cancer” sucks. It doesn’t matter what kind or how much of it none of it feels good. Your body feels violated and something foreign or alien has taken residence inside you. It’s always in the back of your mind and you can’t get it out soon enough. The days until you can remove it slow to a pace of grass growing. The tricky part of illness is that, as you go through it, your values are constantly changing. You try to figure out what matters to you, and then you keep figuring it out. I also think that's the beauty of it too. I’ve never felt more focus of aware of my surroundings and I feel so alive because for once I’m living in this moment right now and that is the most freedom that I have ever experienced.
“There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.” - Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air