Fear is such a powerful thing.
Before cancer, my biggest fears were based on my husband being at war. What if he didn't come home? What if I ended up being a single parent? On my "bad days" during his deployment, I would cry just thinking about what it would be like to raise my son without my husband. Or how I would react if those 2 soldiers showed up at my front door to tell me my husband wasn't coming home. There were days that I just didn't want to go home... because I was SURE they would be there waiting for me.
It never ever occurred to me that I might be the one making an early exit and that Chris might end up being the single parent. Not once.
Then I heard the words, "I'm sorry, you have cancer."
And BAM! My mortality hit me in the face and knocked me on my ass.
And suddenly that's all I could think about. What if I died? What would Caleb do without me? How can my little boy grow up without his Mama?
Eventually I put those fears aside. But that fear was a huge motivator during my fight. I NEEDED to live.
Now the immediate battle is over. I won. I have been declared cancer free... a survivor.
I won, right? No more cancer! But... my mind keeps telling me there is the chance. The chance of recurrance.
Did you know that on average about 80% of women diagnosed with my subtype of cancer are alive after 5 years? That means 20% die. Not all of them die of cancer, but many do. Because the cancer comes back.
That is the fear now. What if it comes back?
I'm doing everything I can to keep cancer at bay. I'm eating right (most of the time). I'm exercising at least 3-4 days every week. I'm trying to keep my weight down. I've cut back severely on my alcohol intake. I'm trying to keep my stress levels low. All those magical things that decrease my chance of recurrance by up to half.
But... what if that's not enough? What if it comes back despite all of that?
This is life for a cancer survivor in the months after treatment. From the survivors I've talked to, these fears are totally normal. Get a headache? The fear yells "brain cancer!" PMS cramps? Must be uterine cancer! Any aches/pains? Bone cancer! Shortness of breath (I'm asthmatic too so this does happen alot)? Lung cancer!
I wish I was kidding or being sarcastic or overexaggerating. But this is a common thread on the support boards where I'm known to hang out. The fear that comes with survivorship.
So that is my new battle, conquering the fear. Because if I let this fear invade my mind and rule my life, cancer wins.
A few quotes recently caught my attention in regards to fear:
"Fear ends where faith begins." ~Unknown
"Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death." ~Unknown
These struck a chord with me. Because in the end, I cannot control recurrance. Nothing I can do will guarantee my long term survival.
So I have to have faith.
I have to have faith that everything I do to keep myself healthy will work. I have to have faith in my doctors and my treatment and that it WORKED. I have to have faith that I have done everything in my power to NEVER have to face this beast again. I HAVE to have faith that I will live. Because a life lived in fear isn't much of a life.
And, if cancer does return, I have to have faith in God. That He has a plan. That even with metastatic cancer, I can continue to survive for years to come. That if I do die, I will be with Him. And He will watch over my family and be there to help them survive.
I know these fears will never fully go away. But I pray that if I let my faith fill me up, there will be little room left for fear.
I pray that through faith, I can find some peace.