Monday, January 1, 2007

End of a Bad Year

This year started with me getting progressively worse news about my cancer (It’s just the breast and lymph nodes under the arms. Nope! It’s in the neck! Oh! It’s also on the skin! No time for surgery! Get on chemo straight away!). And now the year is ending with a mysterious swelling that none of my doctors can identify for certain. Seems like two fitting bookends to a bad year.

2006 was the year of cancer. The year of living cancerously.

Here are some things I’ve learned after a year of having cancer:

1) Medicine is more art than science; more guesswork than certainty.

2) We DO have some control over cancer. We can’t prevent cancer, but we can greatly reduce our risk with daily decisions about diet, exercise, and exposure to harmful chemicals. (There is science behind this!)

3) Facing death has not made me sweat the small stuff any less. In fact, I’m micro-worrying even more. Why? I have more control over whether my kids eat enough vegetables than I have over whether my cancer comes back.

4) It’s easy to be brave when you have no choice.

5) It’s hard to be brave all the time.

6) Cancer patients should be allowed, nay, ENCOURAGED to throw a tantrum once in a while. Especially when those tantrums are aimed at building contractors and bad drivers on the road, rather than doctors and family.

7) People are capable of surprising acts of generosity, kindness, and understanding when dealing with cancer patients. People are also capable of surprising acts of insensitivity, callousness, and apathy when dealing with cancer patients.

8) Cancer has not been the life-altering experience I expected it to be. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

9) I’m more afraid of how I’ll act in the face of death than I am of death itself.

10) I am going to die someday. (I USED to be immortal, really...)

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