woman in canoe approaching a tiny waterfall scared

If I Only Knew Then

The things that I dwelled upon prior to diagnosis simply do not matter now. I received a perspective shift in my life. I have learned in 21 months how to live with a life shortening, incurable disease. Plans that I had for my life were interrupted and some even stripped from me. However, I refuse to take a day for granted. I try to live intentionally every day. I now understand what it means to accept life as a true gift.

It doesn’t seem so bad

The visits to the cancer center were scary at first, but then I realized that it's not so bad. I didn’t see a room full of people in wheelchairs and oxygen tanks and head wraps. I saw people of all ages that looked just like me. I even shamefully thought to myself at first visit, “they don't look sick".

I didn’t look sick either. No one believed that I was sick. This is true for many. That's where advocacy and awareness come in. I decided to share my story with people on my path. I decided to suit up and be in the starting line up to tackle this lung cancer gig and the stigma that is associated with it. I, like many others, didn't do anything to get lung cancer. Many ask how long I smoked. I decided to educate and attempt to erase the stigma at every opportunity.

People love you through it all

One thing is for sure. I have been loved on as I have never been loved on ever in my life. People have come out of the woodwork to know me, to pray for me, and to simply be kind to me. Some were shocked and didn’t know what to say, but with time, they came around when they realized that I was still the same person.

Treatment will be scary. I worried then and I worry now about being sick, but I just take one day at a time because that is all we get anyway. My doctor told me to keep living my life. I take my meds and keep going. If I need to feel sorry for myself, I do—I just don't camp out there. To say I didn’t fear progression would be a lie and I feel that it will always be at the forefront of my mind. Every pain and twitch of the body I think is cancer related. It's not I now realize. I keep going. My scans are an incredible compass for the future. I am grateful for those days. I try to not be scared of those days. I now realize that it would be worse to not have them.

Keep laughing and enjoy life

Be your own advocate. Research new treatments, read up on clinical trials. Always have knowledge of treatment options throughout your journey. This lung cancer thing is tough. It's horribly scary, but it's not who you are.

This cancer journey gives you an excuse to laugh at yourself. When you forget why you opened the refrigerator door and just stare blankly into the light staring back at you, remember you actually have an excuse. When you are talking on your cell phone and looking for your cell phone at the same time, you aren't losing it. Just blame the meds. It's totally a thing. Chemo brain is real! It's kind of entertaining at times. Laughing at yourself is completely therapeutic. Make time for yourself. Sit and listen to the birds. Read a book that isn't cancer related. Enjoy a fabulous meal! Have some coffee with a friend or loved one. Slow down a bit and ENJOY!

You and I have purpose

Always keep growing mentally, physically, and spiritually. If it's toxic, you don't want it. If it's negative, you can't hear it. If it's vain, you need to let it go. You and I are on this earth for a purpose. Never give up! Keep the fight! Hold on to strength. Love yourself and those around you now!

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