In 2006, I was told 3 terrifying words that no one should ever have to hear: ”You have cancer.”
8 years later, I am thankful to be alive, but still haunted by those words. Recently, I was told 4 words that are even more frightening than before: ”You have cancer… again.”
My doctor’s assistant called me on Christmas Eve just after 5pm. I was on my way home from the local market picking up last minute Christmas party groceries. I took shelter from the icy Astoria breeze in a pay phone booth on Steinway Street as she spoke more in depth about the results. I begin to hear everything she said in chunks because I was in shock. Cancer…. Thryoid…. Treatment. I thought to myself, “Is this really happening right now?” Thyroidectomy… Radioactive… Cancer…. The chances were so small of my lump being a follicular carcinoma. My doctor even allowed me to head back to New York because he was so confident that it was “nothing.” That this lumpy “thyroid nodule” was only a little bump in the road, and that I could be back to my life in New York in no time.
But we were all wrong. Life is just not that easy. And, I guess, I am just not that normal…?
It is so easy to get caught up in the “what ifs” and the worries of it all….
What if it had spread to other parts of my body? What if there are complications with my next surgery? What if my body reacts all crazy when the rest of my thyroid is removed? My scar is gonna freak people out… How is this treatment going to affect my long-term health? This cancer most likely occurred due to the high dose of radiation I received to my chest to treat my first cancer. I will most likely get breast cancer by the time I am 30… or maybe lung cancer by the time I am 40 because there is so much second hand smoke in New York….
The voice inside my head overwhelms me like a spinning wheel that can never stop…
But I am learning to let ALL of that go. All of it. For it does not serve me now. and it never will. What serves me is being powerful in facing my biggest fears.
This world can be a cold, unfair, insane, and unpredictably sucky place. However, I’ve grown to be accepting of it, and I find peace and beauty in its crazy moments. Like now! There is so much junk going on that is completely out of our control, but we must fight to live the life we want to live. I cannot control the fact that I have cancer again. It is a super crappy and inconvenient situation because it is my dream to be dancing in New York City, and this silly cancer is kinda putting that on hold for a while. I could get angry at the world. I could be scared about death. I could be pessimistic about my health. But those emotions do not serve me, nor do they help me propel me forward to the high places that I dream about. The only thing I can control in my life right now is how I choose to be. and so…
I choose to be strong. I choose to be brave. I choose to be inspiring. I choose to be positive. I choose to be bigger than my fears.
When I started calling myself a cancer survivor, the 1 thing I feared most in life was relapse or a reoccurrence of cancer in my body. For every CT Scan, blood test, MRI, or X-ray, I literally crossed my fingers, toes, and eyes for good luck. No joke.
Presently, my biggest fear in life has become my reality. But surprisingly, I am okay. In fact, I feel great! I feel physically and mentally stronger, as if I have discovered a new source of inner power that I did not even know I had. A power that can empower and inspire others to do what they love to make a difference in the world. So while I may be “sick” in the eyes of my doctors, I feel more powerful than ever before. It is such a strange concept…
So, yes- life is sometimes crappy. and yes- we can never get what we want. and yes- everything can spin out of our control. But the beautiful part is that you can control you. Choose to be something. Anything.
Fill in this blank.
Today, I choose to be _________.
Today, I am choosing to go bigger- to face my biggest fears with power and a positive mind.
We’ll see how this little journey of mine goes…