Real Life. Real News. Real Voices.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
Join HuffPost Plus
THE BLOG

5 Years After Cancer

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

On May 17th, 2011 I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. Before that day I never took a prescription drug to survive. I never visited doctors unless I was a snotty, gross mess. I never questioned death or had any real fear of missing out on anything in the future. I had the ability to be stranded on an island and live. Not that I would want to, but I loved that I had that option. I remember telling my mom after I had Lasik surgery on my eyes, "I don't need anything now, not glasses, not a thing!" That all changed once I had cancer. My world turned upside down and I changed and I'll never be the same person I was on May 16th. I'm reliant on not just one pill, it's five pills to be exact, but I survived. That's the beauty of disease, it makes you live a fuller, more appreciative life.

Now, I never take it for granted the time I have with my family and friends. I find the positive point of view (or side) as much as I can without being annoying. I breathe deeper and count the blessings that I've been so lucky to accumulate. I hug longer, which can be annoying to people at the grocery store, but hugs feel good. Connection with others is what makes people live longer. I think Facebook is a contributing factor to longevity as it's a community of love, except for the cyberbullies, but they need love too, actually, more of it.

Right before my cancer, I lost my mom to another form of cancer so my constant thought was, "She didn't beat it, what makes me any different or more special than she was?" She was pretty special so I didn't think I stood a chance. Especially when the surgeon told me it was a bad kind of cancer. Thankfully, he was wrong, but I faced death and was about to board a plane to travel the globe when the pathologist called with the correct diagnosis. After I healed from the radiation therapy, I did travel to Italy, Israel and France. I took my amazing daughter to Sedona, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. I could not leave this Earth without showing her what the world would be like if smoking wasn't banned in public places. Las Vegas is the perfect place to not breathe deep but all the lights are super pretty.

I tend to evaluate things more quickly to see if it adds value to my life or just depletes my energy reserve. My 81-year-old grandma, who beat cancer almost thirty years ago, has finally decided that she will only do what she wants to do and not do anything just because that's what everyone else wants. And that includes not attending weddings. I don't want to wait to make myself happy in another forty years. I used my cancer card when I was sick, but no one should need a get out of an event free card. People should just do what they want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. Feelings don't count as we have the ability to control how we respond, and although I will miss seeing grandma at a wedding this summer, I am happy for her and her happiness.

The chemical cleaners and processed foods that I used to have around the house and in the cupboard have slowly disappeared, as I become more educated about products and ingredients. I stopped eating cheese but, let's be honest here, I just had to eat cheese in France, I mean that's what you do. My face broke out so bad that I know now that I can't eat cheese, at least not in that quantity. It sucks but my skin clearly, well not so clearly, showed me that it's not healthy for me. My body is the only one I have so I stopped eating cheese again. Chocolate and wine are a completely different story.

I continue to have body scans and a tumor showed up on my liver a few months back. Knowing my family history of cancer, I immediately booked a surgeon and had twenty percent of my liver removed along with my gallbladder. I have a huge scar across my entire abdomen, but I'm alive. I will soon be down to only very necessary body parts but as long as I have a heart, that's all that really matters. In a world full of hate, war, and chemicals, focusing on love, being healthy and helping others is what five years later looks like for me.