I was interviewed a few years back by a wonderful, amazing author and speaker named Connie Pombo. I first met Connie at an event called “STOWE WEEKEND OF HOPE.” This event is an inspirational weekend for cancer survivors and their families and it is held in beautiful Stowe Vt. I attended wellness programs, workshops and listened to some awesome speakers. It was a life changing weekend for me and I connected with so many souls who were walking a similar path.
It was here that I attended Connie’s”Writing to publish workshop.” Having published several books already, she shared some tips and tools about writing with the potential of publishing your very own book.
A year or so later I did an interview with Connie as she was the facilitator of a website for cancer survivors that provided support and important information.
One of the questions she asked me in the interview was the following.
Tell me about the day you received your diagnosis. And here was my response.
When cancer knocks at your door there is absolutely nothing to prepare you for it. It takes years and years for cancer cells to multiply in your body, yet suddenly one day it presents itself with or without warning. The three words, “You have Cancer,” are I believe the most frightening words one can ever hear from a physician. Sit down, take a few deep breaths, and by the way your tumor was malignant were the first words I remember hearing from my surgeon. My mind couldn’t comprehend the jargon. “He must be mistaken,” I thought as he repeated the words again. “Malignant-Cancer.” It was a very surreal experience.
It truly was a day my life changed forever with or without my permission. “How will I survive this? Where do I even begin?” Immediately, my mind went into overdrive for a few moments and then it went BLANK! It felt like something inside of me had just died……
After spending a few minutes alone composing myself, I gathered my daughters, ages 19 and 21, at the time, and sat them down. I shared my news and we cried and hugged together. I told them we had a CHALLENGE ahead, but that we would get through this as a family with our LOVE and SUPPORT for one another. My husband and son were called at work to come home immediately. Again, we held each other and allowed the tears to flow. I so needed them now more than ever. I truly had no idea how we were going to get through this challenge as I called it. Heck, I didn’t even know if I was going to make it through this day. I knew one thing, it was going to be a bumpy roller coaster ride, so I put my seat belt on immediately. The ironic thing here is that I hated roller coasters!!!!!
I don’t think anyone ever, ever expects to hear the “C” word. For some it is a shock, for others it is not. There is no right or wrong, it is your own unique experience. Whatever your response is, it is right for YOU. No judgement! Allow whatever feelings that arise, to come up and feel them. Honor yourself and if you’re angry it’s okay. If you’re scared, that’s okay too.
For some silly reason I never expected to receive this diagnosis as I was also an ONCOLOGY NURSE. I was not supposed to get “IT.” I was the nurse taking care of patients who had cancer. So somehow, it felt like a double whammy. Plus, I just knew way too much.
What I have learned is that everyone deals with crisis in a different way. Always remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can under the circumstances. It is indeed a learning process and there are soooo many ways to work through your concerns and worries. You never have to carry your burdens alone.
If I was to tell you that I wasn’t scared as heck in the beginning, I would be telling a huge lie. Being diagnosed with cancer can bring up lots of fears and for most it is about one’s mortality. Life became a whole lot more precious the day I was diagnosed with cancer. Everything and I mean everything took on a new meaning.
My life changed in a heartbeat that hot summer’s day. And all it took was a simple phone call.
Know that you are not alone in your feelings. Trust that you will get through this and you will. Allow others to support you, especially those who have not only survived this disease, but have thrived. Surround yourself with positive, inspiring survivors who can uplift and guide you. They can show you the way out of the darkness and into the light.
There will be much more to come as I introduce some truly inspirational people that I met on my path and I will share some different modalities and therapies that helped me to heal. There is so much support out there if you’re looking for it. And HOPE is a big word in my vocabulary as well, for there is indeed life after a cancer diagnosis.
www.stowehope.org is the website for the wonderful event I mentioned above If you decide to attend I can assure you it will be a weekend of love, faith, and joy. It will be a weekend you will treasure always!