When I was diagnosed 15 years ago I NEVER thought I would be still here. Today I spent some time thinking about what I can say after all these years. I mean, many of you have read my lists and thoughts about cancer and survival over the last decade and a half. What could I possibly have left to say? Some of you may be thinking, “OMG, hasn’t she written everything there is to write about cancer?” Well…if you are reading this you know me enough to realize that I can always say more. So….here you go:
Pandemic vs Cancer
This year has been hard. I mean, we are living in a pandemic. Let’s just sit with that statement for a minute. There is a freakin’ pandemic and while we all know it will end and hope it will end soon, we have no end date and that is hard. It’s difficult and exhausting and emotionally draining. I know, I am a ray of sunshine!
So why do I bring up the pandemic? Well the feelings many of us have now are similar to the feelings that I had 15 years ago today. When I was diagnosed I didn’t know how I would get through it all. I didn’t even know IF I would get through it. I know a lot of you thought I wouldn’t. I was scared. My pathology report read like a horror novel. I didn’t have an end date and honestly I didn’t ask for an end date because I was afraid the end date would be MY end date. And then during my most difficult time, my own personal pandemic, I got hooked up with some amazing doctors who, by saving my life, allowed me to:
- be there for my children’s milestones . That includes graduations, all of the “firsts” like first time leaving for college, first dates and dances, first jobs, etc. I am beyond thankful that I have been able to see and share so many experiences with my girls. 15 years ago, Emily was 4 years old and I didn’t think I would still be around when she graduated Kindergarten. I thought Sara and Kelly would remember me but Emily was so little and would likely not remember me at all.
- be there for the small moments like taking the girls shopping even when we don’t need anything, saying goodnight, reading bedtime stories, running errands with them, trying to make them feel better when they have a bad day, and listening to their excitement when they have something special to share.
- celebrate 15 birthdays, wedding anniversaries and holidays with my family, go on family vacations including 13 countries and many trips to the beach. 15 years of memories my kids and husband wouldn’t have had.
- work as a school librarian and read books all day-so fun, teach in the classroom again, become a counselor and work in my former teaching partner’s school (thanks for hiring me, Lynn) and finally, return to South Brunswick where I taught so many years ago. I am without a doubt where I belong and along the way, in all of my other jobs, I have made connections with so many awesome people.
You get the idea. I have been around for longer than I thought and have done a bunch of stuff. But it brings me back to thinking about the pandemic. We have seen a lot of footage of doctors being celebrated and honored for their service during the last 10 months and that’s awesome. People are right to honor the amazing things doctors are doing during the pandemic, but doctors going above and beyond doesn’t surprise me. Whether it’s during a pandemic or during my own year of cancer, that’s what doctors do and who they are. My doctors save lives every single day but they don’t just save one life.
When my doctors saved my life they saved my children’s mom. They saved my children’s childhood and my husband’s wife. They saved a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher and a counselor. They impacted all of the children I read books to, taught to read, and all of the students and families that I have helped over the last 15 years. Much like the lesson learned by George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, these doctors have impact that extends well beyond 40 year old Carol who walked into their office 15 years ago. I hope they know that.