April 15, 2009

1 1/2 Year Cancer-Versary

1 1/2 Years Ago Today - I was Diagnosed with this Horrible Disease. 1 1/2 years ago today, the words "Cancer" and "Melanoma" came out of my doctors mouth and told ME, that yes, I had CANCER! I'm not sure why I find 1 1/2 years so significant (I mean, why wasn't a year so significant to me?? I'm not exactly sure. Maybe because I have been slacking HORRIBLY on keeping my blog up-to-date, and this 1 1/2 year mark is a chance to get it going again? Yes, let's go with that. I do know I've spent so much time thinking about what I wanted to say today. Somehow, I'm still stuck with nothing...

So, I guess here it goes...

18 Months ago today, my life changed when cancer interrupted everything I had going in what I thought was my perfect life. 1 1/2 years ago today, I was certain I would be dead in just a few months.

But today, 18 months later I AM ALIVE and I AM FIGHTING!!
I've decided to call it my Cancer-Versary

When I think of anniversaries, I think of milestones. The person I am today, 18 months after this disease decided to create a complete mess in my life is a completely different person than that scared girl who was told she had almost zero chance of seeing her next birthday. So today, oddly enough, is a happy day for me. I am still here.
So, how have I made it this far?

That is a question I find myself asking frequently, and after really thinking about it, I’ve realized the constant support of my friends (old and new) my amazing family, the ability to find HUMOR and to LAUGH at the many experiences associated with this horrible disease, the personal growth I’ve experienced since I was diagnosed, the non-profit foundation I co-founded with a friend in support of other people all over the world who are fighting and the overall change cancer has created in my life are the reasons I am still here today, 18 months later fighting harder than I could have ever imagined I had the ability to fight.

Somehow, at some point in the past 18 months I have learned how to stay positive (ok, at least I’ve learned to try really hard to be positive, most of the time.) I've stopped allowing myself to waste my time focusing on negative possibilities because I believe 100% in the horrible power that cancer can have. I know if I focus on the negative, that cancer truly has the ability to take over and end my life faster than the quickest spreading, most invasive cancers known. So, I do my best to shut down the negativity.

For someone my age, 18 months is a lifetime – and it really does seem like it sometimes. Losing my independence has been one of the worst things, but I've also learned that there are people here willing to move mountains for me. I have the greatest friends and family. Friends and family who have never left my side and who have loved me through good, bad, ugly, through EVERYTHING. The relentless love and support my family has probably been the strongest support line I could have ever have imagined. Since day one they have sacrificed more than anyone can ever believe possible in order to help me to their greatest possible capacity. They have provided such a solid, tangible foundation for me. They have never let me wonder how far they would go. When most people would be at their limit, they go furthur, every single time. For 18 months their dedication, love, faith, hope and support has NEVER wavered, regardless of the strength of the many, many trials and tests this disease continues to bring. They have been my strength, my voice, my eyes – not only now, but since the day I was born. The love I feel for them is so far beyond words or expression - They have been my life line, over and over again and I cannot thank them enough.

Cancer is so hard, but Humor has had a huge role in carrying me to where I am today. My friends and family have slowly adapted to my attitude of at least appearing to be dealing well. My friends laugh, at least 75-80% of the time we are awake and together, I’m not just talking, but I’m laughing. Laughing HARD. I’m talking doubled over in pain, tears running down my face, hyperventilating while making every attempt not to pee my pants kind of laughter. Non-stop – to the point of losing our voices from laughing so hard. I laugh at my situation constantly and laugh at myself even more. Laughing keeps me floating and my friends and family laugh with me to ensure I don’t drown in it.

The Bottom Line: 1 1/2 years ago today, Cancer changed my life. But cancer has also made me a new person. Cancer has made me better. If this hadn’t happened, I don’t feel at all confident I would ever have experienced true happiness. Cancer has given me the opportunity to learn about myself and the person I am in a way I never knew possible. Cancer has allowed me to begin a relationship with myself, a person I look back and realize I never really knew. I know God, I know peace and I know happiness. I go to bed every night with complete confidence that there is a reason for all of this happening in my life and knowing that I am safe. I used to depend on happiness and comfort from other people in my life, but I have finally learned what it means to rely on myself and to be content with the person I am and what I do. I am so at peace, so much more than before.

I have no idea what the future holds for me. I have no idea how long I will have to keep fighting this monster inside of my body. I HATE cancer and I HATE the negative things it has brought upon me over the past year and a half. I HATE sitting by and watching what cancer is doing to others and watching it destroy and take away innocent lives. But I do know that I am strong, I am resilient, I am determined, I am optimistic and I am a FIGHTER and a SURVIVOR. I can beat this, regardless of the obstacles cancer stands in my way. As much as I hate cancer and how it has taken over my body, my life and my world – Cancer has become a part of the person I have become and has truly taught me now to live. No matter how long I have to fight, I’m ready and will not fail.

Above all, I know I wouldn't be here today if I had to do this alone, in any aspect. I have been so lucky to receive such amazing support from my family and friends. I will never be able to express how much the people who stand by my side every single day mean to me. I truly have the most amazing Team of Cancer Fighting Warriors on my side helping me fight every step of the way. The constant support is appreciated more than you will ever know. 18 Months and counting, 18 months down, but the FIGHT is NOT over.