Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Cancer free" isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Don't get me wrong, being cancer free is great. I know it makes others happy to ask if I am cancer free and hear me say yes. But the harsh reality is that cancer survivors can never say they are free from scars...neither physically or emotionally. We can never say that we are free from what it took from us. I've been done with treatment for almost four years now and I hope with everything that is within me that one day I can say I am free from the effects of treatment.

For instance, to this very day, about every four months or so, I will get that terrible chemo taste in my mouth. It lasts for three to four weeks and then just goes away. It is a reminder of what I went through. It is short sided for anyone who hasn't ever dealt with the disease to think we as survivors should just be "grateful" to be alive. You have NO idea how difficult life is forever changed from the very moment you hear the words, "You have cancer."

On one of the darkest emotional days I ever had during treatment I couldn't sleep at all and was up in the middle of the night, alone, bawling my eyes out. Alone with the dark thoughts cancer patients can't confide to their friends and family. I wrote the following poem that night and I hope it brings you hope or that you can share it with someone else to bring them hope if they are facing this terrible monster.


The busy streets, the hustle and bustle, the cares of today all rushing by. Then one word enters your life and everything stops. Time is suspended. Oh...all the rest of the world is still rushing by as you stand in the middle of the freeway wondering how you are not getting hit. Although being hit is exactly what has happened. Hit by the word "Cancer." Your world starts moving in slow motion and your mind a complete fog. Day by day is spent trying to let this sink in, how can this be true? Maybe there's been a mistake, it just can't be you. 

Slowly you start to understand that you will never wake up from this horrible nightmare because you are already awake. As you settle in with the reality of your new existence you ponder many things. Somewhere, somewhere deep within you starts to rise. She rises and keeps rising until she is completely standing. It is the you that shrunk many years before too afraid to ever come out.

You stand tall and take a look around. Only this time you don't see what you used to see. You see new beginnings, you see so many possibilities. You start to have ideas, dreams, hopes for your future. Then, you grab hold of those and you hold tight with all that is within you and you fight. You fight to live, to learn, to grow and love. 

And then you realize that this is the new you.


Written by Kelley McElreath

1 comment:

  1. You are truly a survivor! Very well said my friend!!