Since my diagnosis I have not participated in any outside program related to cancer. At first I was uncomfortable with the idea of identifying myself with cancer. I am not one to just bring it up and a conversation. Who really wants to hear depressing shit? The only place I have felt truly comfortable saying whatever is on my mind, is in my colon cancer group. There, everyone has the same problems more or less. During one of those meetings the opportunity was presented to volunteer at a local hockey game to promote Colon Cancer Awareness Month. I was intrigued and thought this would be a perfect way to start giving back.
When I received the information on what we would be speaking about, I discovered it was not so much about colon cancer, but more about promoting a new website entitled “Cancer IQ”. We were encouraged to try it out first. This site asks the user approximately 15 questions, and then identifies what their risk factor is for a specific cancer. I decided to fill out my form based on myself one year ago – before my diagnosis. To my surprise my risk for colon cancer was only 10%. Is this site useful? Absolutely – it brings awareness to the user, and maybe reminds them to go and speak to their healthcare professional about being tested. What this site does not do however is ask the right questions. The biggest sign for colon cancer is all about the way your poop looks. Is it pencil shaped? Is there blood? Is it a solid or a loose movement? These questions would greatly help determine whether or not a person should be concerned. But no – not one single poop question. No wonder I only received a 10% risk factor. Imagine someone like me out there took this? They would pat themselves on the back and go back to sleep. No worries in the world. Wrong.
What does this teach us? Do not take one opinion as the be all end all. If you have concerns, ask around. Each person will provide you with a different piece of the puzzle.
What I have learnt about myself over the years is that I enjoy having numbers as goals. Whether that is a certain amount of savings I want to reach, or pounds I would like to shed – I have always been attracted to numbers. So when it came time for myself to get serious with my post-chemo weight loss – I began researching wearable technology. After speaking to others as well as conducting my own online research – I concluded that a FitBit would be the best for what I was looking for. Now I have a number goal that I have to reach each day. Also, the fact that you wear it on your wrist has helped as well. It is hard to just “forget” about working out when it is staring you in the face every moment of the day. I am very hopeful that with this new way of being accountable for my fitness goals, that I will be able to reach them. I am also being realistic to the fact that it will not happen over night – however that would be nice.
I find it interesting when I speak to people these days, I consistantly hear the word “journey” being used.
“Oh what a journey you have been on this past year”
“I bet you can’t wait until this journey is over with”
“Just think in a years time you can look back at this journey you went on and laugh”
I myself may be guilty in the past of using this word in order to help describe my current situation. The truth of the matter is, this is not a “journey” for me – this is my life. There is no end to this experience. After my lung surgery, when the doctor annouces I am cancer free, that will just be the end of one phase. From everyone on the outside life will go on. Slowly the fact that I had cancer will become just a memory for them. New people will come into my life that will not even know anything I have been through. For someone with cancer however – it never ends. There are side effects from every surgery – phantom pains, scars, etc. – these are things we have to just suck up and deal with because we exchanged them in order to save our lives. Every scan creates a mound of aniexty for the chance we will be told bad news. Every time there is the littest amount of pain in a new area – the thought that our cancer is back will instantly enter our minds. This is no journey, because journies usually have a end point. We cancer survivors forever live in the “for now”. In May when my surgeon enters the room with a big smile on his face, and annouces that I am officially cancer free – inside my head I will be saying, “for now”.