The one thing that I never, ever expected that I would say, is that I am a cancer survivor. I do not expect special treatment because of having gone through cancer. I do not want, or accept pity as there is no cause or call for it. Each day that passes I see people whose fight is much worse than mine was. I see, I read of or hear about their struggles and I know that I had it easy. But I had it. And because of that, I will never be the same.
Before cancer, there was an innocence. You know you will have colds, even the flu and in a few days all goes back to normal. You know that you can stump your toe, bump and bruise, or get a splinter and when it is healed, all is normal again. That isn't exactly true with cancer. Not for me anyway. While I don't obsess over cancer, every year when it comes time for that annual mammogram I wonder. That small shiver of 'what if' crawls along my back and settles in that little spot in the back of my mind. You know its there, you know the possibility is there, but you can't let it get a hold and grow.
Before cancer, I never thought too much about what I was eating. I had cut back on sodium intake - I thought. As far as anything else, there were no restrictions. I love junk food, I crave junk food in ways similar to an addict, because I am addicted to sugar. Guess what I discovered after cancer? That cancer feeds on sugar in all of its forms. My diet went from junk to healthier. No, I don't always eat healthy, but I try to maintain a more healthy diet than I did. My diet is filled with more fruits and vegetables. I do cook more from scratch than I did before. I have discovered that it really does make a difference.
Before cancer, my exercise was limited to walking from the chair to the bedroom. I did the household chores and my work is somewhat physical, but it wasn't enough of the right stuff. I will be honest n that I need to work more on this aspect of the changes, but I'm trying. I do, weather and time permitting, walk for an hour. Once the weather gets better I'm taking the dog and doing more hiking on some local trails. I may even actually try to get in the habit of running. I do need to incorporate strength training into the routine.
Before cancer, I didn't think much about stress levels or how to lower them. Stress was and is, simply a fact of and a part of life. But the truth is, it doesn't have to be. I'm continually learning more and better ways to handle stress. Through the music I listen to, through the hobbies I enjoy, through the hikes behind the house, the list is endless in how one can ease the tension and stress in their life.
Before cancer, my knowledge was very limited. I knew it was a disease. I knew that people suffered and died from it. But it was, other people, and not me. Since my personal battle with cancer I've learned a great deal. I have learned and I continue to learn. I have learned I am stronger than I thought. I have learned the pain of losing loved ones to cancer. I have learned that cancer is non-discriminatory and doesn't care about age, race, sex, what you do for a living, whether you are a mother, father, sister, aunt.. I have learned that cancer is a cruel enemy and one that must be fought. It is the only way that we will stop losing people we love. It is the only way that we can put a real end to the suffering that people going through cancer endure. I have learned how to eat better, exercise better, calm the stress. I have learned, but there are others who have yet to gain a better understanding. We need more and better ways to educate people so they too can be healthier. Without forcing them to change but giving them the understanding that would bring about a desire to change.
It is my belief that the American Cancer Society is trying to do just that, but they do need funding. That is one of the reasons why I participate in Relay for Life. That is why I invite others to join us. That is why I ask for donations of time, talent, materials and yes, money. To help bring about changes that will in time, find a cure, better preventative measures, and better ways to fight, endure and win the battle.
You can join my team, make a donation or place an order for a luminaria here: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/rebeccarevels
Our Relay is May 9th at Common Grounds of Stanley. I hope to see you there..