Those of you who are keeping track know it’s my cancerversary today. Three years ago today I was called into a little exam room with my gastroenterologist, a heptologist, my parents, and a picture of a liver on the wall, and was diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was.
I didn’t write much about cancer back then–I think I was shocked into silence by all the major life changes that had occurred in quick succession (move across the country, start grad school, break up with boyfriend, get diagnosed with cancer). But I remember thinking, rather naively, that I didn’t want to become “one of those people” who lets cancer define them or change them. Out of respect to my 25-year-old self, maybe I haven’t let cancer define me necessarily, but I think I have taken it by the horns and created amazing and positive things out of it. This blog. My viral video. Stronger relationships with some of my friends and family members. New relationships. I don’t know who I would be if I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer three years ago today, but I wouldn’t be me.
Yes, at times, cancer has taken me by the arms and legs and created uncomfortable, painful, terrible things for me. Most notably, the past nine months. Today, in fact, I “celebrate” in the hospital or just out of the hospital (I am dutifully writing this on Monday night) from a procedure/surgery to fix a lung fluid draining problem caused by my surgery in February. If you asked me three years ago where i’d be three years from then, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned anything about a hospital. I wish I wasn’t so familiar with hospitals and procedures/surgeries. But then, I was naive to the power that cancer has, both good and bad. I think I thought I might be cured in three years.
Well, i’m not cured. But cancer hasn’t taken over, either. I can’t do anything about the power that cancer has. I can make the most out of it, I can say that it sucks. It does suck. I can power through the bad parts. I can just try to live as normal a life as possible, only with this unpredictable beast growing (or hopefully not growing, and in fact, shrinking) inside me, Sometimes making life decisions for me. In short, I can be a liver.