Am I braver than I knew? Sometimes I feel a fraud thinking of that statement. I wasn't brave... I just did what I had to do.. There was no alternative.... I had no choice.......
And then I think about the whole story... the diagnosis; the ferar; the preparation for surgery; the healing; the chemotherapy .... the ability to hold my shit together of facing everyone's worst nightmare... cancer... of the lungs.
My cancer was found by pure chance.. an X ray I had to have for paperwork to submit... I was totally asymptomatic. Everything seems to happen so fast.... As we lived on a Caribbean island we had to fly to Miami, find accommodation whilst I saw people, had tests etc....and finally my surgery to remove 2/3ds of my right lung. Because of the early diagnosis it was stage 1, surgery was successful, my recovery was going great etc, and yet I needed chemo to ensure that there were no rogue cells. Thankfully I could come home to the Cayman Islands to receive chemo there That was when I really needed my brave I was so scared, did not want to lose my hair, didn';t want to feel so awful as everyone was warning me.. Again.. I felt there was no choice.... I wanted to watch my 2nd grand child grow up (she was born the day of my surgery!) so we began. As a swimming teacher on the island I managed to maybe work one week out of the cycle of 3 between chemo sessions, hat on my bald head, using sunscreen daily on my head and as a result brought the topic of cancer to the table of my students and their families. I did not know I was an inspiration to so many people, I did not know that I gave families a chance to talk about health fears etc. I was helped financially by the parents of the swim students and friends, I was helped with the cost of the chemo by the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.... all of this was as overwhelming as the journey itself.... to learn to receive. I pledged and indeed succeeded in raising money via sponsored swims to repay every $ the cancer society helped me with, so someone else could receive the same help.
But you know who was really the bravest? My husband who was beside me every sick day, every ill day, every scary day, untied by all the tears and fears.
He really deserves this sweatshirt.... as do SO many people, trying their hardest to just get through today.... for whatever reason.
YOU can do this... yes YOU who feel unable to see beyond where you are now... we are all behind you...
Those of us who have been there before you...... we've got your back.
I am now 15 years beyond what seemed like a nightmare.. able to watch all 3 of my grandchildren grow strong and brave in their own ways. To become a different person due to my experiences, more compassionate, more empathy and allow my yoga teaching to share this gentleness and gratitude.