It was pushing five in the evening as we sat in the waiting room of the oncologist's office waiting to hear the results of my lung biopsy. At this point, it had been six days since my initial MRI that showed my brain lesions and five days since finding the mass in my lung. The room was filled with my husband, in-laws, second parents (Paul & Tami) and my Aunt Jane on the telephone. As we all waited anxiously, I honestly wasn't sure how to feel. I pretty much knew what we were dealing with, but no one had come right out and said it to me. Well all of that was about to change. The doctor walked in confirming that we were dealing with cancer. To be more specific Non Small Cell Lung Cancer that originated in my left lung and had now metastasized to my brain stem & frontal lobe. Thanks to the spread he informed me that this was classified as Stage 4 cancer. Following this he went into great detail about the cancer, forms of treatment and the next steps of testing for a gene mutation. I honestly couldn't tell you what all he said. It all was a blur as I sat there at 29 living a healthy lifestyle. In fact, I had made a living off of being a personal trainer and then, most recently, a high school physical education teacher. The only thing I could think about was what all of this meant for me moving forward. The big question was weighing on me, but I didn't know how to ask it. Finally I spoke up and said the words I never thought I would, "Is this terminal?" Without hesitation my doctor said yes and proceeded to tell me that many were living for a couple years, as though that was a number I should be happy about. My immediate feeling wasn't sadness, but anger. As much as I respected my doctor, I also felt he had no place to tell me how long I would live for. In my opinion, that was in the hands of God and Him only! Once the appointment was over and we were taken back out to the waiting area, we all immediately fell to tears. I have learned how much power a doctor has. He can either encourage you and give you hope or crush it all within an hour.
Once I let it all sink in I came to the conclusion that not only did no one have the power to tell me how long I was going to live, but that I have too much life in me to be done in two years. I want to have children (however that may look now), be a wife for longer than I was single and impact the lives of others in a grand way. I want to bring meaning to my hardships and give them a purpose. For me to be done in two years just wasn't something I could comprehend. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't get the diagnosis and say "Screw you!" then all was okay. I went through, and still do, a rollercoaster of emotions. My poor husband has had to deal with not just the normal PMS emotions a typical husband gets, but the "Shit, I have cancer!" emotions. Let me tell you they aren't pretty! No matter where those emotions took me I always landed at the fact that I am not done. This brings me to the ninth factor in the book Radical Remission, and the second which I am addressing, Having Strong Reasons for Living. From day one I had a flood of reasons for why I am going to live longer than ten years...let alone two. I try my best to keep that as my focus and not let any doom & gloom emotions set in. Thankfully Braden reminds me daily that I have a lot of life yet to live. To him overcoming cancer is just apart of our yearly goals. This optimism is what I need most when I start to have a pity party. I quickly get that jolt back to reality and pull the nail out my head. (Please watch video to understand the reference. It's Braden's favorite!) Thanks to God, a new doctor and a supportive husband my list for reasons to live just keeps growing!
My hope is that with or without cancer you find your strong reasons for living. We all need them in order to feel purpose and drive in our own lives. So my question to you is, what are you living for? And it must be said, my new doctor talks about how people learn to live with cancer just like it's diabetes. No more two year talk filling my energy!