Monday, November 17, 2014

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

As I continue to recover from breast cancer surgery, I realized that my relationship with cancer will be an ongoing one. I have further treatment to come and continued monitoring for many years. But how to describe this complicated relationship? I have been searching for the right word. A few that I've considered:

  • Fear - My tendency with fear is to hide under the bed and wait for whatever is scaring me to go away. This is not a good strategy for maintaining health. We all know people who avoid doctors and tests because they are afraid of what they might find. So fear is not the right word.
  • Hate - It's easy to be angry and hateful about cancer. I've seen it ravage the bodies of people I love. Some of them didn't survive. But hate is a heavy burden to carry. To me it also implies malice and intent. Those little cells were once a normal part of my body. For a variety of reasons, they broke bad. I don't think they were out to get me. If I did hate them, I forgive them now. They are gone.
In talking to my husband about this, we came up with a new word: Respect. I respect cancer. I respect its power. It is an adversary worthy of my due diligence.

I respect cancer enough to have routine regular screenings, one of which resulted in my diagnosis. I respect cancer enough to find out as much as I can about it and its treatment. I respect cancer enough to seek out the best medical professionals to help me fight it. I respect cancer enough to carefully follow post-operative care instructions and recommendations for ongoing treatment. I respect cancer enough to research diet and lifestyle changes that can help me keep it at bay. I respect cancer enough that I will do whatever I can with my life to help those who are coping with it and to see it eradicated.

So, I have a new mantra I repeat in my head. They are the words of the incomparable Otis Redding that have been immortalized by the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin.

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Take care, TCB"