A cancer survivor talks about being forced to turn the page after her diagnosis.
“Don’t close the book when bad things happen in your life. Just turn the page and start a new chapter!” Those are the words of LaToya Jackson, which I feel exemplify my life since receiving a cancer diagnosis.
All of us are scared after being told about a potentially chronic and/or fatal illness. We are fearful for our future or even wondering if we will have one. Few of us truly have any idea of the impact a diagnosis of an insidious disease like cancer will have on our lives. However, most of us figure out how to turn the page.
I was incredibly naïve when I was told my cancer was incurable, but treatable. I thought I would continue to work the two part time jobs I loved and just go on. After all, I was used to working 10 hour days and nothing was going to stop me now- right! So I would just keep on trucking.
But we all know that treatments become a way of life. My friend views her cancer as another job. The treatments, doctor appointments, blood draws, fatigue, and other side effects prevent us from going back to where we were before and does become a full time job.
And I have friends who choose not to go on as before. They quit their high powered jobs to do something else they love, or they turn to survivor programs and visit with patients .Some retire to move to a place where they have always wanted to be. Each one of them, along with their family and friends, started a new chapter.
For a couple of years, things remained the same for me. Then I was forced to quit one part time job, but kept the teaching one. I figured after class I could go home and rest. I had been voted Faculty of the Year by my students after my diagnosis, and most of them had no idea I was fighting cancer.
I increasingly got one infection after another and had to start a harsh new chemo. My oncologist gently told me I had to quit teaching. When I got home by myself, I kicked, I screamed, I cried, and I was angry. Why would something I love be taken away from me so cruelly? I already had medical bills out of the wazoo, had to downsize to a much smaller place because of money, and given up one job. Why did I have to do this too?
But, Jackson was right. It was time for me to turn the page. I began writing, revised my old worn out website, published a couple of books and began to blog for Cure. I love it even more than teaching. And by doing it I am teaching to a worldwide audience as people contact me from all over the globe! And if I just do not feel like getting out of bed early, I do not have to!
Changes happen to us at every phase of life and not just with cancer. I can tell you not to kick and scream, but then I would be a hypocrite. What I can say with certainty is this. If you just turn the page, a new chapter that you never dreamed of will emerge!