Happy Cancer-versary to me!

Today is my three-years-in-remission mark!  Hooray!

Cancer is a funny thing. Going through cancer is a surreal experience.

Chemo-brain is a lingering side effect. My memory is not as good as it used to be (though, I admit, it used to be disturbingly sharp). I wonder how much of what I went through I forget. I wonder if that’s a blessing.

I didn’t have a “throw caution to the wind and party all night every night” kind of life before cancer, so I can’t say that cancer has made me re-prioritize and my life is on track now.

But it changes you. It’s impossible to deal with something potentially fatal, with debilitating treatment, for months on end without being changed.

I seem to be different than many young adult cancer survivors in that I’m not angry, generally. Or perhaps I should say, I’m not angry at cancer. I’m not angry at researchers and Big Pharm for not curing us of this affliction.

Truth is, for the most part, we need to cure ourselves.

We need to get rid of the chemicals in our foods, drinks, clothes, furniture, cleaners, environment that cause cancer in the first place. We know what they are! Research told us! Will it be inconvenient? In some cases, yes. But is it really inconvenient to have fake butter that isn’t yellow?

I look at it as a choice: I can choose for everything to be as quick, easy, and convenient as possible, or I can choose for as much as possible to be healthy. Sadly, they are often mutually exclusive.

(This is not to say that I think research is useless, but we have so many answers already. We need to implement them. Research is useless if we ignore the results…)

My cancer was not, as far as we currently know, based on lifestyle choices. I have changed my lifestyle anyway. I did cancer once already. I don’t need to do it again.

Does changing your lifestyle (or maintaining a healthy one) guarantee that you’ll never get cancer? Nope. But I’m in favor of taking the best odds I can get.

What about you?

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dan Hankins on 19 November 2010 at 01:16

    I’m also not angry. Is 47 a young age to have cancer? My cancer was AFAIK not the result of lifestyle choices.

    I haven’t gone the aggressive health route you have, in part because I’m not convinced the cost is worth the benefit. I have made a renewed effort to keep my weight under control and to get regular exercise through swing dancing, partly because it makes me healthier and extends my lifespan, but mostly because I look better, feel better, and like myself better by doing it.

    Dan

    • As far as I’m concerned, just about any age is too young to have cancer. 47 is not in the “young adult” category, but I’m not too much into pigeon holes :)

      I was on a path that became more and more healthy, less and less about chemicals, before I was diagnosed. I was already a healthy eater, exercised on a regular basis, and maintained a healthy weight. I think that other changes I’ve made (not using plastics, for example) are things that were on my path anyway and that the cancer experience just sped it up.

      The only thing that I do as a result of cancer that I don’t like is wearing sunscreen. I hate it. My skin feels gross. I’ve taken to wearing it only if I’m going to be out for more than a few minutes and to try to use clothes/hats/etc. instead whenever possible.

      Day-to-day, there’s not added expense to my life, though.

      I love swing dancing :)

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Last year I had a cancer scare (breast lumps that are not “bad”, just a hormonal imbalance) and was in shambles for weeks. Even if I knew I am 32 and perfectly healthy, and it would have been caught on time, the thought wasn’t “pleasant” at all. Fortunately I have just that memory of how scared I was and how happy when the biopsy came clean.This is not something to take in lightly.

    If just the thought of having cancer really shocked me and put everything into a new perspective, I am sure for you guys it’s changed EVERYTHING, when it comes to perceiving life. I am so happy to hear you are a survivor and it’s all going on so nicely. I wish you all many other occasions to celebrate HEALTHY years since those hard moments. And let’s hope it will never ever come back.

    • It is fascinating to me how people react to cancer and cancer scares. You and I reacted similarly, it sounds like: took it as an opportunity for learning and made some changes.

      On the other hand, I know survivors who smoke and a few skin cancer survivors who still work on their tans.

      I wonder what about people makes them/us react so differently?

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