Thursday, March 19, 2009

Defining

Tim and I are going to a survivor/caregivers dinner next Thursday. I've never been to something like this. They have meetings, support groups, things like that, for cancer patients. I never went to one. They were held on a Wednesday, invariably on a chemo day. By the time that my chemo was inexplicably changed to Thursdays, I had a handle on everything, and did not feel the need to go to a support group, although it was very nice to talk to others who had dealt with, or were dealing with, cancer. So Tim was a little surprised when I told him that I wanted to go to this event, held in the banquet hall of a local hotel.

I've been thinking about it a lot. Life is beginning to go back to normal. Tim is working again. I will be returning to work soon. Cancer treatment has gone from a long drawn out thing with plenty of side effects to a short procedure that seems to have (knock wood) no side effects at all. I suppose that it is too early to say that I've beat it. I imagine that there will be tests to verify that the cancer is gone, that it hasn't spread, etc. In my mind, though, I feel like the battle has turned in my favor.

I plan to be part of our Relay for Life. I also think of my friends Mary (Mary, the childhood friend and Mary, the new friend who's also dealing with breast cancer), and know that the most important thing that I can do is to be a Mary to someone else who is starting down the same scary path. I've met people, though, who have taken on the identity of 'cancer survivor'. That is what they are. If you asked them to describe themselves, it would be the first thing that they say about themselves. It is a banner of triumph that they wrap themselves in, and well they should; cancer is not the easiest walk in the world. I just don't ever see it becoming the most important chapter of my life. I can't imagine that it will ever be 'the' defining thing about me. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a sister. I am a friend. I believe in God. I am a hard worker. I am funny. I am responsible. Oh, and yes, I had cancer.

I suppose that the daily dose of tamoxifen will remind me that I had cancer. While the scars have faded remarkably, my mishapen breast will remind me of this time as well. My life will return to normal, but the new 'normal' will include reminders of this time. It is an important chapter of my life, and I firmly believe that it was a chapter that I was meant to learn from. I'm also meant to use this chapter to reach out to others. Life is about balance, though. In a few months, when you ask me about myself, I will again list the things about myself: "Well, I'm a mom, and I'm a wife. I am a good friend. I believe in God. I am a hard worker. I love to laugh, and I am responsible." As I tick off a description of myself, I may get to the part about cancer. Maybe I won't. Cancer will never become my identity. It will merely be a chapter in my life.

Unless (God forbid) it comes back.

10 comments:

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much more than a mom said...

Thanks for stopping by my place! It's great to read your hopeful success story. Way to be a trooper!

Tara said...

thanks for dropping by my blog...it's nice to meet you. You have an amazing story of hope!! I have a very dear friend right in the middle of breast cancer... her blog is http://mystorymoments.blogspot.com/
She's probably love to hear from someone who has beaten this!! ♥

Robynn's Ravings said...

DEBBY!!

Just wanted to thank you so very much for dropping by and for your kind comments.

I'm so sorry you are battling breast cancer. I have other friends who have as well. One is a long-term survivor and is thriving and another just got her diagnosis in January. I posted this about it:

http://robynnsravings.blogspot.com/2009/01/breast-and-beast.html

But her prognosis is good. Thank you for sharing this journey that WAY too many women are traveling on. Come back by ANYtime and laugh, hang out, and, occasionally, cry with us. :)

I pray healing and blessings for you.

Robynn

Barbara said...

Lovely blog, thank you for the comment on mine. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone else doing your spring cleaning!?! Made me chuckle! :)

I think you have a very healthy attitude towards being a cancer survivor.

jeanie said...

Hey Deb - I think its a bit like hair colour or sexuality - everyone has a different way of working it into their definition of themselves, and there will be days (like meeting people who are survivors - or the survivors of those who were not able to) where this part of your definition will be what connects you.

Blicky Kitty said...

I was just thinking about this the other day as I was thinking of all the different people in my life touched by cancer. I do know some people who, as you describe, incorporate cancer survival into their identity and others who just want to forget about it. It hit me that going through cancer with one person doesn't make you any better able to reach out to the next person. I guess you just have to really listen each time. I was thinking about blogging about it but I can't seem to talk about it without swearing like a (very angry) sailor.
You continue to be in my prayers and you totally rock, cancer or no cancer.

Caroline said...

I am volunteering at the Relay For Life here - doing publicity. I think its a great cause and glad to hear when others are joining in.

Dave said...

Glad you are feeling Happier Debbie. I am also especially pleased that your Tim now has a job. Bet he's a different guy now! - Dave

Kara Herron said...

Debbie - I really enjoyed your blog. I'm Tara's friend who has breast cancer (see the post from Tara above) and thought I'd give you my new cancer blog address. I used to blog about my cancer journey on My Story Moments (like Tara said), but I recently created a new blog just for that. It's www.foobbabe.blogspot.com

I can't wait to read back through the rest of your posts about your cancer. Glad I found you.

Good luck.
-Kara Herron