Cooler Temperatures, Colorful Trees, and Plenty of Gratitude

I always look forward to October. It usually brings cooler, wetter weather to our parched city after a summertime of high temperatures and little rain. I love watching the trees change colors, even though in Texas it isn't nearly as dramatic as it is in many parts of the country. Halloween isn't my favorite holiday by a long shot, but I do enjoy watching the children get excited over it. October also means that two of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, are just around the corner.

Fall marks another milestone to celebrate

Perhaps most importantly, October means that I add another year to my survivorship calendar. It was at the end of October 2012 when my very astute general practitioner discovered the tiny knot on my collarbone that began my cancer journey. While a diagnosis had not been made at that point, October 29th is the day that my cancer was discovered.

I always feel blessed that circumstances were in place for my cancer to be discovered when it was. I had no symptoms. None. I was more active than I had ever been in my life, working full time and running agility with my two dogs nearly every weeknight and every weekend. I was having the time of my life.

Picking the doctor who saved my life

I have never been a doctor goer. Before I went to the doctor that day in October 2012 to try to find out why I was gaining weight, no matter what I tried to do to prevent it, I hadn't seen a physician in about 10 years. I chose the doctor who saved my life by her name. She had the same name as a friend and coworker. That's a great way to choose a doctor, right?

It turned out to be one of the luckiest choices of my life. I don't think most doctors would have been thorough enough to have felt the little knot on my collarbone, especially since I was there to find out about weight gain. I had felt the knot a few days earlier, but it didn't concern me. I had forgotten all about it. Later, my oncologist agreed that even he might have missed it in an exam as it was so small.

My angel doctor not only felt the knot but sent me immediately, that day, for a CT scan. The next week or two was a blur. She scheduled a PET scan - who knew what a PET scan was before their diagnosis? Not me! When she mentioned she wanted to send me for one, I looked up what it was on Dr. Google. It was there that I got my first hint that I might have some kind of cancer. (My physician had not described the CT scan results in such a way that alarmed me - when she said there had been a problem, I never thought the problem might be cancer.)

A time for gratitude and reflection

I know that many people choose not to "celebrate" their cancerversary, or anything at all to do with cancer. Not me. I feel grateful and thankful that my doctor found the knot and sent me for testing. If the "stars" hadn't lined up as they did: the weight that I couldn't get rid of, a new doctor with a common name, and a tiny knot that had only appeared days or weeks before, I wouldn't be here today.

So, every October, I celebrate cooler weather, colorful trees, and the fact that I'm still here to appreciate them! In fact, as soon as I finish here, I think I am going to write my angel doctor a thank you card for another year!

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