In October I will have my 5th anniversary. Yes, I am all clear! And that feels great. For some time now I have wanted to make peace with all that happened to me in late 2002. I have done some research on cancer every now and again; I have flirted with the idea of volunteering at a cancer organization -- and even made some calls but no real progress; but I really did not know what to do.
Cancer was one of the best things that has ever happened to me... It totally transformed my life and made me see some many things in such a different way. As I heard before -- from my cyberfriend and cancer cowgirl Kris Carr -- I don't call cancer a gift because I would not chose to give it to anyone -- instead I see it as a catalyst. And I am grateful that it touched my life and made me into who I am today.
So doing a lot of soul searching I came to the conclusion that the scariest thing about cancer is that it is usually very lonely journey. You are there pretty much on your own. Your parents are suffering, your family is hurting, your friends are sad...but none of it can take it away from you. It's a very personal experience. People tend to group so many things together and just label them "cancer"...but the types, treatments, experiences are all so different.
I remember when I first heard I was sick, I wanted to find someone who had gone though the same thing... Maybe I was hoping that they would give me some sort road map to prepare me for what was coming up or just shed some light on so many issues that were going through my head. I looked around, asked my friends...and found no one. And it was not a good feeling. I felt lonely. I felt scared. I felt vulnerable.
If in the US you can find tons of books on cancer...in my native Brazil they are very hard to come by. Most of them are just medical literature, which is too daunting and technical. Not user friendly at all.
And later I found out that I wasn't the only one who had felt this way. It's amazing how God must bring people together... Soon after I was diagnosed I was told about other cases in my company and of course was very curious to meet these people and learn more about their experiences. Co-workers of mine who I would occasionally see at the cafeteria all of a sudden became my newest friends...my "cancer sisters"...
I learned so much from them... We would compare notes and share experiences and confessions...and build a strong bond that could never be broken. And lately I've been feeling compelled to share theses stories with other people, who might be at the same place where I was five years ago, and they are scared because they may not have anyone to talk to...or maybe they may not have anyone to tell them that this stuff happens but they can get through, like so many of us out here.
I will start collecting the testimonials and posting them here...so maybe these stories will inspire other people, or at least make them smile.
I know this is uncharted waters...I have no idea where this journey is going to take me, but I am already on my way.