Monday, June 4, 2012

The Sixth Year

“Cancer. The word meant the same to me as tsunami or piranha. I had never seen them; I wasn't even quite sure what they were, but I knew they were bad and I knew in many cases they were deadly.” (Natalie Palmer, Second Kiss) 

 June 5, 2006 is a day that forever changed the course of my life. I learned what is was like to stand on the beach when the proverbial tsunami hit, or swim with the metaphorical piranhas. I found out I had cancer.

Flash forward six years to the day. Tomorrow will be a starkly normal day, and I'm pretty happy about it. I'll get up early and go for a run if it's not raining, then I'll go to work, grad school class, and come home and make dinner. I've celebrated my cancerversary each year I've survived, and while I'm personally reflecting (and rejoicing) that I'm still here- breathing, running, and living, I'm content at this point to be 'normal' and embrace the normalness I've found since cancerversary number five.

That said, I've got a lot to be grateful for. My life has come together in so many ways and everything seems practically perfect- although I hesitate to use that word because if everything is perfect, it can only get worse. As if maintained health isn't enough, I have  gotten engaged, landed my dream job, and rescued a dog this year. All of these things mark a new level of survivorship that includes planning ahead for a lifetime, rather than just a few months. Switching jobs carries a level of risk I was once too terrified to even consider, for fear of losing tenure and the security of medical benefits that came with it. Not to mention that the responsibility of managing my complex schedule of doctors' visits has now  been traded for trips to the vet and a groomer. 

Life is strangely normal, and I think what makes it so unfamiliar is that I have spent so many years now living a life that's anything but. It was that 'new normal' they tell you you'll find when you get cancer, a normal that's strikingly not. But here I am, the only remnants of cancer hidden- faded scars under clothing, a few pills each day to replace hormones chemo stole, and a bracelet cautioning lymphedema risk. I'm not sure I ever would have ended up exactly where I am now if I hadn't gotten cancer, but that doesn't really matter, because when I look around these days, I like what I see. So now that I'm here, I think I'll stay.

Hope, Love, Run,
Marathon Girl

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