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Cancer-versary: Celebrating Lessons I Learned from Cancer

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It was a year ago that I was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. What? Right? Nuts. They say you never know what people are going through. So true.
While everyone was going through the sh*tshow of 2020, I didn’t want to add to the emotional burden by broadcasting my news. I had Stage 2 Cervical Cancer. A group of speaker buddies, neighbors, and friends knew. I didn’t even tell my parents until I was halfway through the 8 weeks of treatment.
Let me cut to the chase. I feel great, my latest scans are clear and I’m ready to share — especially the lessons learned.

HUMOR IS EVERYTHING

 

From the start, I named the tumor FRED. I don’t know why. I just thought dead rhymed with Fred and I planned on killing it. Apologies to anyone named Fred – nothing personal. When I told my daughter the news, she asked if she could curse and said, “F* Fred” and that became a mantra. Friends made masks, mugs, shirts, and socks to support the sentiment.
Gluing clown noses on my mask, bringing treats to the oncology staff, and telling random jokes were therapy. My speaker buddies put together a chemo comedy hour video for me to watch during my infusions. One even created a funny song (thank you, Patrick). Words cannot express how helpful humor was during the darkest time in my life.

KINDNESS IS KING

Surround yourself with the most incredible people and be that incredible person. Relationships matter. Are you keeping up with your crew? Do you give your heart to others? Those “hearts” came back to me tenfold.

No one could come into the treatment rooms with me. My bestie, Tami, started the “Cashen Crusader” group. They would send me texts at a particular time on my way to radiation treatments. A local group even came to “cheer” me into the chemo centers. They wore shirts and carried signs. The staff asked if it was my last treatment. It was only the beginning. There were certain people who sent weekly videos, one who lead me through daily meditations (thank you, Nikki), neighbors who brought dinner even when I said we were “fine,” and so many kind and unexpected gestures. Don’t underestimate the power of kindness. It got me over my “sobbing shower” experiences more than once. A lot of people don’t know what to do. This has taught me EXACTLY what to do. Be there. Be kind. Be understanding. Be quiet.

GET CHECKED AND CHECK YOUR GUT

Are you up to date on your health checkups? Get on it. Not later. Now. Also, please check on EVERYONE you love and make sure they are up to date on ALL their health appointments. I’m begging you. A colonoscopy is uncomfortable but doesn’t compare to radiation and chemotherapy.

Full disclosure, I knew something was wrong TWO years ago. My doctor told me not to worry and “just get a hysterectomy.” Then 2020 happened and there were no “elective” surgeries. When the surgery finally got scheduled, I had a nagging feeling and got a second opinion. That doctor found the tumor that would not have been dealt with in a hysterectomy. That “second opinion” doctor saved my life. TRUST YOUR INTUITION and give yourself and those you love a gift — a gift of YOUR good health.

YOU TRULY DON’T KNOW WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE GOING THROUGH

Always assume positive intent. If someone hasn’t been in touch with you, hasn’t responded to your texts or is a bit “short” with you — give them the benefit of the doubt. Check in and let them know you are thinking of them without demanding a reason or questioning their absence.

CELEBRATE LIFE

It feels cathartic to finally share my experience and I pray that someone reading this will finally make a doctor’s appointment that they (or a loved one) have been putting off.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for being connected. Thank you for taking care of YOU.

 


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