I found out I had cancer on a rainy Tuesday afternoon in October. I wasn't feeling well, so I had gone home early from work. I was sitting on the couch in our little row house in South Boston, with both dogs on my lap, watching Oprah. She was interviewing Rupert Everett and I remember thinking he has so much make-up on.
As soon as the phone rang I knew who it was. It was my doctor. Telling me I had cancer.
I fell to the ground crying.
It was the first of only two times I cried during the entire ordeal.
I had a few avenues of treatment I could pursue: chemotherapy or surgery.
"Surgery," I told my doctor. "Get it out of me."
The surgery was called a 'radical hysterectomy'. Even the name of it was horrible sounding. I knew going into the surgery that I wouldn't ever be able to carry children. I had the ingredients, but I wouldn't have the oven in which to bake the cake (so to speak). But I didn't care. I just wanted to live.
My surgery was scheduled on November 30, 2004, 10 months shy of my wedding. I half-joked to Mr.KK that he was going to marry someone who was broken. He made me promise not to ever say that again. My surgery was a success, and I've gotten a clean bill of health ever since.
I think the worst part of having cancer was having to tell my mother my diagnosis. It's THE WORST thing in the world because part of you feels like you failed her somehow, even though it's not your fault. So if you can get through that part, the rest is cake. Sort of.
Five years is a magical number for cancer patients. It's when you reach a target survival rate (for me it was 92% after 5 years). It's a HUGE milestone. We celebrated with a family trip to Boston (perhaps this was our first family vacation even before we knew it!).
Hotel Nine Zero in Boston.
Cheers to kicking cancer's ass!
Me and Dr. Feltmate at my 5-year appointment.
That's me: cancer free!
After 5 years of appointments every 3 months
it was time to say good-bye to Dana Farber.
I was lucky enough to have cancer while I lived in Boston so I could be treated at Dana Farber Cancer Institute where they have the best treatment in the world. There's a sign hanging in the hospital that says "You come for the doctors but you remember the nurses". And it's true. The nurses made a very invasive surgery and week-long hospital stay not so horrible for me. They sat on my bed when I was in pain, made me get up and walk around to get stronger, and made sure I had plenty of pain medication (KEY to recovery).
Here I am 10 years later.
Healthy and Mom to Maxwell.
I'd be lying if I said I don't wonder if the cancer will come back. But having cancer has given me such an optimistic outlook on life. Sure, I'm way more emotional and I cry at the end of TV shows (LAME!), but I also grab life by the balls, push myself and just go for it.
After all, you only get one shot.
I'm proud to be a cancer survivor. They are some of the strongest people you will ever meet because they've looked a pretty scary disease in the eye and pretty much said "F You".
I wouldn't have made it without my Mr. KK, who slept on a VERY uncomfortable chair next to me in the hospital for a week, brought me my favorite treats during my 8 weeks of recovery, who was my biggest cheerleader on those days I never thought I'd be able to get off the couch, and who didn't care that he was marrying someone who was 'broken' :)
So, happy anniversary to me.
And here's to the next 10 years.
(PS: 30 posts in 30 days DONE!)