I had a little scare last week.
A little tenderness and pain sprang up in my lower right pelvic area, the same spot as my first two tumors. Uh oh! Was this another tumor or just scar tissue causing problems with my colon? The tenderness/mild pain kept up for almost a week. My local oncologist poked around my belly but didn’t feel anything, so I decided to just wait until I go to MD Anderson for my quarterly check-up in two weeks.
But the next day, the pain was less. Now it’s completely gone and I am relaxed again.
So THIS is what cancer survivorship is like. A little cloud hanging over my shoulder. Wondering if every ache and pain is the cancer coming back. For a few days, I spent some time thinking about my options if the cancer returned. But then decided it was best not to worry until I have some real facts: data from a CT scan; tumor marker levels; doctor visits.
What’s a person to do in this situation? For starters, I slipped into the pool again this morning for my swim workout with TeamTexas Masters in spite of the 40 degree temperature outside. (Thankfully the pool is heated!) After two months of swimming, it finally feels like things are clicking. I swam my heart out. Ironically, I’m on my way to being the fittest and healthiest I’ve probably ever been. Eating right, sleeping better, exercising more. Still working on managing some of the stress in life. Trying to keep perspective to help set me on course again.
I’ve been thinking about other aspects of my life and where I can contribute. Of course, raising kids is the most important job ever. But I want to give back in some way related to cancer. Everyone handles their cancer experience a little differently. Some want to move on. Some want to hang back and stay in the cancer arena. There are so many approaches. But I have realized I’m a “hanger.” I feel this urge to help others with cancer in whatever small way.
I’m interested in fundraising for appendiceal cancer research, an orphan disease, that needs a bright spotlight shining on it. My ideas are still evolving and I will eventually figure out where I’d like to focus my extra energies.
But sometimes I am hesitant. I look over my shoulder and that sick, weak, struggling woman with cancer I once was is daring me to give up, to not take that next step. But I owe it to myself to put on my good dress and my dancing shoes and get on with life, full-speed ahead. I owe it to the cancer survivor that I am.