August 17, 2022 marked seven years since I heard those three words, words that changed my life and turned my whole world upside down forever. Words that get played over and over again in my mind. Words that no one ever wants to hear. Words that are powerful, cause fear, and stop you in your tracks. Words that make you question your future and make you wonder how you will get through this. The three words I’m talking about are: you have cancer.
I still remember the room that I was in when I heard those words. I remember the outfit I wore to the hospital. I remember how fast my heart was racing waiting for my oncologist to come into the room to give the results of my biopsy. I remember where I sat waiting. I also remember where my mom sat next to me. I remember feeling terrified that I had cancer and hoping with all of my heart that I was wrong. I remember feeling like my heart stopped once the words entered my ears and tears immediately ran down my cheeks. I remember looking over at my mom and wanting her to make it all better, but she couldn’t. I had cancer and no one could make it all better.
Hearing the words “you have cancer” in your thirties is devastating. In that moment, my world as I knew it changed forever. I remember having a hard time processing anything else that was being said after that moment. It was like my oncologist was speaking in a language that I didn’t understand. I was looking right at him and could see his mouth moving. In my head the words “you have cancer” were playing over and over.
The first thought that came into my head was about my niece and nephew and how I am going to tell them. My next thought was, “Am I going to die? Will I be able to see my niece and nephew grow up?”
The past seven years have been like riding a roller coaster with ups and downs, twists and turns, and moments where I felt my heart literally drop. I find myself thinking about all the things that cancer has taken from me around this time of year, and my grief is more present. I wonder about what my life would have been like if I didn’t have cancer. I think about the dreams that have been taken from me. I wonder about the person I would have been if my life wasn’t derailed from the path that I was on.
It’s hard being a cancer patient and living with the “what ifs” and the unknown. I live with a lot of anxiety. There are times I find myself wishing that I didn’t have to deal with cancer and all that comes with it.
I look at my friends and see the lives that they are living. The life that I once dreamed for myself. If I’m being honest, it hurts, and I feel really sad. There is part of me that still wants that life and I don’t think it will ever go away.
I’m also not sure how to heal that part so it doesn’t hurt so much. Seven years since I have been in the cancer world. Seven years of loss, pain, and anxiety. As I write this, I wonder what my future will hold and how it will be.