Yesterday, November 30th 2016, was my SIXTH anniversary with NED (no evidence of disease) after my journey with Stage 4 nonmucinous appendiceal adenocarcinoma.
I will never know why I had cancer. Or why I am well and still here. Instead of searching for answers to those questions, I would rather address the real questions that matter, like these that I came across recently.
- Did I offer peace today?
- Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
- Did I say words of healing?
- Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
- Did I forgive?
- Did I love?
I try my best to answer ‘yes’ to as many of these as I can every day but I’m only human and I always fall short! Crazy as it sounds, it’s not always easy to carry the weight of being well, of being given more time after staring down my possible death before I was ready. So how do I live my life now?
I’m trying to make choices each day to pay it forward, be present, listen and participate. One of the ways I try to to do these things is by being there for my small “tribe” of fellow appendix cancer survivors. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to help other cancer survivors by participating on the MD Anderson Patient and Family Advisory Council. As part of this group, I’m able to give my input on ways to improve patient care at MDA.
My doctors (my heroes) don’t know why I had a complete response to chemo and surgeries. There are only 50 -100 people diagnosed in the U.S. each year with my particular flavor of appendix cancer. Meaningful data is difficult to glean from such a small group. So I may never know the answers to the why and how of my cancer. For now, that’s OK with me. I’ll stick to living my life as best as I can by trying to answer the real questions.