Finish Lines and Prizes
Since beginning this cancer adventure I often felt as if I was a participant in some sort of weird physical and emotional contest. It involved me trying to keep my strength, sanity, and sense of humor in the face of unrelenting side effects of cancer treatment. It hasn’t felt like a battle against cancer, but more like an endurance challenge filled with countless opportunities to keep on going when my strength was absent and my reserves were almost gone.
I don’t see myself as a fighter. I’m more the pacifist type that believes in the power of peace, even when in pain, overwhelm, extreme fatigue and when consumed by the ick that comes with cancer treatment.
Each season of this journey has had a beginning, a middle and an end.
In the very beginning, I felt confident and optimistic. In many of the middles I often lost touch with my strength and simply was hanging on hoping for relief so that I could muster up some additional oomph to get me to the next course of chemo, ready to replay the whole scene again.
Although the big finale will not occur until January of 2020, I delight in crossing finish lines along the way.
Completing the major and most toxic of the chemo regime was a finish line I joyfully crossed in May. I knew this game was not complete, but I had a renewed confidence I could survive what was to come next.
I recently crossed another finish line of twenty radiation treatments. This challenge was much easier than chemo since my side effects were minimal. It felt more like an inconvenience built into my weekdays, requiring me to simply shorten my daily work schedule rather than feeling I had a huge mountain to climb. Although it required daily 100 mile round trips to Williamsport for a fifteen-minute zap of my left breast and associated lymph nodes, it was more like a field trip to a science lab where I was the subject being treated.
Since I noticed I was dreading radiation and since dread never feels good, it was clear I needed to come up with a plan to shift my perspective to something that would not rob me of joy Monday through Friday. As it turned out, simply seeing my daily excursions as something to look forward to since I had a new driver with whom I could have a nice long visit, made these daily trips not only tolerable but absolutely enjoyable. I also enjoyed making some new friends that took care of me along the way by carrying out my daily zapping.
Little did I know that only a few hours after ringing the crystal bell to announce my radiation completion I would soon be awarded some unexpected prizes at a Corning, NY Chamber of Commerce event.
Attending this Chamber networking “After Hours” event was another FIRST for me since being diagnosed in early December. Although I have always enjoyed attending these gatherings, this one was especially sweet since it was kind of like a re-entry into my professional world of business connections and possibilities for expanding our work.
When I dropped my business card into the two prize bowls for the drawing later in the evening, I already knew I was going to win. It felt like I deserved a prize for coming this far on my journey and I was already celebrating.
Most of my fellow attendees had no idea why I had been absent for eight months nor did they know that this event was much more to me than an opportunity to trade business cards while sipping white wine and munching eggplant tamponade on pita points. It was about me once again living a fulfilled life while boldly stepping forward with complete joy and gratitude.
Although the gifts (my name was drawn twice) were quite generous and much appreciated for their physical value, my greatest prize was knowing that my life is no longer on PAUSE, but on PLAY. I am back to presenting, creating, planning and winning since every day of life is a PRIZE.