All day I've been re-playing the events of 1 year ago today. I remember the 40 minute ride over to the hospital with mom and dad as we played Roar over and over again and how the bright sunrise blared in our eyes. I remember how crisp it was outside, the smell of fall in the air, the awful smell of the hospital food in the hospital hallways, what I was wearing and the pain I felt in my chest as I finished my last round of chemo. I remember how I felt walking out of that hospital feeling a sense of freedom knowing I was finished with needles and fluids going into my chest and abdomen. I remember how my abdomen felt as it filled up with 14 pounds of fluid. I remember walking the halls with my mom to alleviate the pain in my chest from all of the fluids and seeing my nurses for what would be the last time during my chemo treatments. I remember the tears that filled my eyes and trickled down my cheeks as I walked out of my hospital room for the last time, knowing I had just accomplished a task I never imagined I'd ever have to face, let alone finish. I remember the roses still in bloom as I walked out of the hospital on that October afternoon. I remember thinking, "Did the chemo do what it was suppose to do? And now what? What do I do next? Do I just go back to what I did before I was diagnosed? How do I just go back to where I was after all I've gone through?"
I remember a few days later going to the cancer therapy session and asking these questions to the social worker, but not really getting an answer. A few weeks ago when I saw Dr. Dan, we ran into one of the social workers who I became quite close to. She asked me if I had read a book on survivorship after chemo. I told her no, but that I had all sorts of questions when I finished and that no one gave me answers, but that I had to find them all on my own through my own experience. She said there wasn't really much out there in regards to literature.
Now that I have year 1 down, I've learned a thing or two about survivorship. I've learned that you take a few months to be proud of being bald because you've earned it and you are definitely at a point where you are tired of wearing something on your head. I've learned to start back slowly on an exercise regimen and to keep it going, even if you don't feel like it. I've learned to travel even more than I did before (is that possible) and enjoy the opportunities before you. I've learned to talk about ovarian cancer as much as I can to others and to be proud of what I've gone through. I've learned to cross off things on my bucket list and to live life to the fullest. I've learned that you go back to work when you are ready and to enjoy work even more. I've learned to enjoy reading like I did before cancer. I've learned that I can be loved regardless of hair or scars. I've learned to love deeper. I've learned to forgive quicker. I've learned to not get upset over trivial things. I've learned to enjoy the ride even more than I did before. I've learned to not work so much and so hard, because it's only money and when you die you aren't taking it with you. I've learned to spend some of that money on things that you want or things that you want to do, because if you don't someone else will. I've learned not to worry so much that the cancer is going to return, but to think about it not returning. I've learned that sometimes your family will worry about your cancer returning more than you will and that's ok. I've learned to be more compassionate as a provider. I've learned it's okay to think, "This time last year I..." and that per a patient those thoughts eventually fade, even though it may take years. I've learned to experiment with short hair as it grows out and to have patience as it does so. I've learned that it will take at least a year for your body to be back to where it was before cancer or at least close to wear it was and that it will never be the exactly the same as it was before. I've learned to accept trials, setbacks and surprises. I've continue to learn that Heavenly Father is in charge, that He will continue to guide me and that He will continue to answer my prayer's. Most importantly I've learned that He see's the bigger picture and to trust in his plan for me.
More than anything, I've learned that I'm a cancer survivor and that because of this title I can overcome anything, because it take faith and courage to conquer cancer.