Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cancerversary

{SOURCE}

A year ago today I had surgery to remove my left lung, along with the gigantic carcinoid tumor that had been growing inside of it.  

I haven't "officially" commemorated many of the moments from my cancer diagnosis last year.  There were many dates that I thought about what I was experiencing the year before, but I wanted my cancerversary to be a date that marked a true milestone in the road to healing.  I didn't begin the healing process until I had my thoracotomy on August 24, 2009.  That day was the start of a very challenging journey that I never imagined I'd have to embark upon, an experience I never could have planned for, with both very scary and very beautiful moments along the way.

When I woke up in my recovery room that Monday afternoon, I would learn that I had a much larger tumor than my doctor had expected to find and thus, there were a few more complications than he would have liked.  I had several tubes coming in and out of several parts of my body.  I was swollen and sore, yet relieved and eager to get better.  I came home only to have additional (scary) complications develop and I spent a week (quite possibly, the worst week of my life) in the Intensive Care Unit.  I headed back to Houston soon after to see my surgeon, who was relieved to see that I was not nearly as deathly ill as he had expected me to be.  Radiation began soon after, and I spent two months away from home.  When I returned in November, I was worn out but felt better, stronger, and ready to begin living my life again.  

Since that point, I've slowly returned to a life that mostly resembles the life I had before cancer.  I face roadblocks here and there (colds, bronchitis, soreness, throat surgeries) and I revisit my tumor every few months to see what it has been up to while I was trying to move on.  

Today, I reflect upon all the great strides that I've made towards healing and upon all the amazing things that have happened in the time between then and now.    

I'm thankful for...
  • my amazing husband for his constant care and attention and for making me laugh and for loving me and keeping me sane. 
  • my mom and the rest of my family for being there for all the good and not so good moments.
  • my friends, who are such supportive and amazing people and have made this journey a lot more bearable.
  • the incredible team of doctors who treated me and continue to treat me.
  • my health today despite everything that has happened - no more blood thinners, no pain pills and no other medicines at all.
I feel grateful that I...
  • am getting back to my thesis and art history
  • got through my first cold and flu season with only one lung!
  • have my voice back. 
  • can sleep on my left side comfortably again.
These are just a few of the things I've been reflecting upon lately and as I go forth, I will continue to focus on healing and on making the most out of every day.  For now, I'll celebrate this first year with a cool new haircut, maybe a cupcake, and by doing everything that I thought cancer was going to take away from me.  

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful post!! I am so grateful that my journey has intersected with yours. I draw strength from your story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. CONGRATULATIONS STEPHANIE!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Lisa!

    And Marlena, It's really wonderful to hear you say that. I started this blog with the hope that somewhere out there, someday, someone might read it and it would help them to feel less alone in their own journey with carcinoid (or whatever else they might be dealing with).

    A year ago, when all the initial diagnoses and surgeries and questions began, I looked online for something, anything that vaguely resembled what I was dealing with. I wanted to see that someone else had been through what I had, and had made it through. I am at that point now only because I was able to find hope and strength from other bloggers and people sharing their stories.

    ReplyDelete