" There is life before a cancer diagnosis and life after the diagnosis....life will never be the same as before." Somebody at the klinik this week said this to me and it really had me thinking. Prior to my devastating news years ago, life was good....Mike and I were living it up and enjoying all the stuff that most young couples enjoy. We were both happy, our love for one another was radiating and we were settling into our careers.
Then BAM, Lisa has stage III melanoma....and has to undergo surgery, chemo, and radiation. And if thats not enough a year later Lisa has stage IV cancer....the cancer metastasized to her spleen, hip bone, lungs, and liver. Clinical trial? Conventional? Holistic? Decisions decisions... On top of it all a month or so after initially diagnosed Mike proposed.... a day I will never forget that will forever make me smile ear to ear and elicit goosebumps instantly on my skin. The whats-suppose-to-be-joyous wedding planning, was tainted with my, with our, fight against cancer. When I was in it I was happy to have a distraction and truckin along with treatment, decorating our new beautiful home, and for the meticulous Virgo in me, hastily, rather than anally, planning our wedding. I was happy as ever on our wedding day but I was sick, and not myself. I used every little ounce of energy in me to enjoy and dance the night away. The Italy wedding and honeymoon was also tainted by the cancer. I lost energy to go gallivanting toward the end of the honeymoon and became really sick from indulging in all the delicious Mediterranean cheeses and bread. Our Italy wedding was amazing as anything but I was so weak ...so sick...so emotional.
Looking back, our young lives were so impacted, and we both began to feel the normal stressors that come along with cancer. We were so strong, together, but there comes a point where it builds and builds and you begin to break. Truthfully, no one really knows the impact unless your living it first hand. Will Lisa live? Will this be a life long battle? These thoughts are tough and take there toll. Do I work and take a paycut? No, I cant... I would feel horrible not contributing to our household. Im not a homebody....my mind needs to be preoccupied. But should I dedicate my time to healing and curing myself? The dietary tweaking was constant. Should I eat this? Am I allowed this? I will just stick to vegetables because I know thats safe. But NO.....what about protein, fruits, and grains? There were many losses to get used to. Do I continue to go to Switzerland? Its disgustingly costly....I feel terrible the astronomical amount this is costing my parents. My dad worked so hard....for what....sending his daughter for this ridiculously costing holistic care? Why do I have this privilege to undergo this biological treatment? What about other people who are suffering that would never be able to afford this? There was always important decisions to be pondered about. Socially things became difficult....I couldnt drink alcohol, I could no longer indulge in the fun Italian dinners at my in-laws, I had to eat very specifically and Mike was supportive and followed my strict diet. Mike's diet changes brought me guilt. Its unfair... I wanted him to enjoy his lifelong comfort and "manly" foods. Despite knowing it was healthier for him you still get comfort out of seeing those people you love enjoy their food, especially their traditional foods. I was so focused on curing myself. I had tunnel vision....cancer....I need to cure this cancer....what could I research next....what could I blog about.....what else should I do to help myself...infusion? acupuncture? work? preparing healthy food? morning regimen of ....enema, drinking supplement drinks, taking drops and downing pills? physical therapy? lymphatic massage? exercise? Hmmm....how much can I fit in a day? What about whats most important? My relationships, my amazing husband and making time for those people in my life that keep me going. That naturally gets lost in this I -got-to-fight-this-god-damn-cancer journey.
So, yes, its very true that life prior to being diagnosed will never be the same but whos to say which is better? Im thankful from all that I learned since being diagnosed. I feel a hell of a lot healthier now then I did in the past and I learned how to treat our bodies. Mike as well....he is super fit and health conscious. Everything happens in stages....baby steps...and eventually the balance between extreme diet and a healthy diet routine comes into play. You learn that your allowed to indulge every once in awhile and have to live a little. You find peace in talking to fellow cancer/life threatening disease warriors. The importance of "giving back" becomes that more heightened. Who is truly there for you is revealed. You learn to appreciate life for what it is and focus on whats really important rather than the gluttony and the need to want want want. You lose patience for people's bullshit. You distance yourself from those who lead stressful days and unnecessary dramatic antics. After going through a very tough situation first hand, its difficult to wrap your head around the nonsense and the unnecessary drama that people create in their own lives. You learn to let go and realize that its not worth it to stress about. These are only things that could harm our morale and central nervous system. You appreciate everyday for what it is and enjoy it. You feel a real sense of gratitude that you are fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to undergo such life changing yet costly treatment. You learn that anything is possible with the support from one another. You value relationships that much more. You learn the beauty ad intensity of a parents love for their daughter. You learn to balance and prioritize whats most important for the mind and body and spend time with those people you love in your life. You learn to be conscious of breath and value your body on a totally new level. You learn that positive attitude and energy is critical. You learn that cancer is NOT an outside invader and that the internal milieu must be completely revamped. The dietary changes and new lifestyle becomes routine and not so alien-like. You learn the power of love and that its the number one and best treatment that one will ever have. You learn that life post cancer diagnosis is better in many ways then pre cancer diagnosis....
Much Love and Appreciation,