Last week at work, I learned that it was National Donut Day. Despite the conversation, the laughs and the chatter about our favorite donut types, I resisted the urge to eat one. This was hard because….well, despite their sugar-overload and messiness, donuts are awesome. Yet, I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate one. After the conversation ended, I forgot all about this national day.
Today, thanks to social media, I learned it is National Cancer Survivors Day. Thinking back, I don’t recall knowing that there was a national day for this. Perhaps, like National Donut Day, I took part in conversation around it the day of and then forgot about it. Perhaps I didn’t read too much into it because the thought of cancer sucks and it was often hard to talk about. Perhaps I didn’t check social media that day to learn about what day it was. Regardless, today I know. And today it hits home.
It’s been a rough few days. I have been fighting a wicked cold for a while (finally on antibiotics!), I hurt my knee running and have been limping for a week (sigh, I’ve moved on to the elliptical instead) and I had expansion on Friday. Expansion, to put it nicely, sucks. I did another 80 cc and have 2 more expansions of 80 cc each in the next few weeks. I spent Friday and Saturday uncomfortable with muscle spasms and pressure from the expansion (the pressure is there but better today). My plastic surgeon offered to do less over a longer period of time but I’m anxious to be done and move on from this stage.
All of that being said, I’ve been a little grumpy the last few days. I try to remind myself that this phase is almost over. I try to tell myself to enjoy the day despite the discomfort. I try to relax. I try to sleep it off. But it has been getting the better of me. And I hate that. I hate cancer. I hate what it forces people to go through. I hate what it does to our minds and our bodies. I hate the way it makes us feel. I hate the way it questions our mortality. I hate that every decision that is made in life, cancer has a say. I hate that I let my mind wander to these dark places. I hate that it is getting the best of my mind.
So today, as I learned about this National Day, I took a step back. I stopped thinking about the discomfort and the pain and the sickness and I reminded myself of how far I have come. This day last year, I was two months away from learning that I had cancer. This time last year, cancer was winning because I had no idea it was inside of me, secretly growing and prospering. This time last year I was going about life as if tomorrow, the next year and the next decade were all guaranteed to me. This time last year I hadn’t taken ahold of my own future – not just my health but my hopes and dreams, my aspirations, my goals. This time last year I was not a survivor.
Today, I am.
I am a survivor who has both bad days and good.
I am a survivor that tries to see the positive in all aspects of life.
I am a survivor who will not be defined by cancer.
I am a survivor who enjoys the small moments in life.
I am a survivor who does not take time for granted.
I am a survivor that shows herself how strong she is every day.
I am a survivor who has taken hold of her life and the life she wants to live.
I am a survivor who will continue to fight and live and love.
I am a survivor who will not take life for granted.
I am a survivor who beat cancer.
I am a survivor.
So today, on National Cancer Survivors Day, I will say with pride: I am a survivor.
Because I am blessed to be here. I am blessed to have beaten this horrible disease. I am blessed to be a survivor.