Photo Essay

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind.

Surviving Cancer

A friend at work gave me a copy of the sunscreen song with a few things underlined and when I read them I thought wow, how true some of the lyrics really are.

You're rolling along in life, just doing the normal everyday things, bitching, worrying, and complaining about the little upsets in your life, like the price of gas and darn kids, and then wham, just as the sunscreen song says

(The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind: the kind that blindsides you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.) But in my case it was like 11:ish, on an idle everyday Tuesday. To hear the words, you have Cancer (non-hodgkin lymphoma) is one of the scariest things you might ever hear.

I stood there for about 3 minutes with the phone to my ear in shock not saying anything. Thinking so many things. It can't be true, It's been six weeks you @$$!!!!!!! You said it might take 3 weeks not 6 weeks!!!! You waited too long, its not true!!!!!!! What will I tell my kids!!! I am not strong enough for this. I'm a wimp I can't do this! I am not ready to die, I haven't done enough exciting things in my life yet!!! Once all this crosses your mind, you calm down and say hey wait, ummmm yeah I don't really have much of a choice, I HAVE to do this, I HAVE to be strong. Out comes the suit of steel.

Scary scary stuff, and oh what a reality check. You become the great pretender for some, make jokes, I am not afraid of dying, I am more afraid of dying and having everyone read my journals haha. (I really though I had better start editing my journals.) Someone please take some pictures of me there aren't a lot around and you might need them when I am gone, or for my collage Id like done at my funeral. These are some of the thoughts I had. I bet anyone who has had this scare has thought these things. Silly, I know but unless you have been there you don't know.

All of a sudden your life becomes really profound, you look back at the past few years and think, wow, now I know why all the crazy things happened, that happened to make me a stronger person, to give me thick skin.

It also made me realize that the exciting things in my life that I thought I didn't do, I did do. That the small things can be some of the best things ever. Spending time with your kids, just being with them, talking and listening to them. Having them repeat something I said to them when they were little, a word of advice I may have given them. Wow they were listening!!! That more than anything makes me realize that I was a good Mom, that staying home with them was a good thing.

Taking a walk with my Dad down the canal, so he can tell me his stories one more time. (He now has Alzheimer's) Having tea with my Grandmother and having her tell me about the family tree. Those are the exciting things in life, not climbing a mountain, or writing a book.

I have also realized that with all my photography that I had been doing in the last 2 years, it has made me see the world as much more of a beautiful place. Even the small things would looked amazing. I began to notice so much more and appreciate everything around me. A raindrop on a tulip, A lady bug on a leaf, even a rain cloud looked beautiful. It has made me watch so many more sunrises and sunsets. And they all looked so different. It has also made me watch peoples faces and see the smiles more and notice if they were sad, I for once was looking into strangers eyes, something I have never really done. Sounds of the leaves blowing on a warm summer day sounded better, waves at the boat launch on a really windy day, kids laughing at school, I've noticed these things so much more in the past year. So now I know why all that was all happening.

(Be nice to your siblings: they're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.)

Family becomes way way more important than they already were. They may not realize how much they help you with your C word journey. Calling to see how you are doing everyday, getting you Irish good luck charms, going to your very scary appointments with you, and meeting you for coffee after every radiation appointment. Listening to you cry your eyes out and letting you tell them how $%&%^* scared you are. They tell you great advice and make you laugh, they stay tough with you, until they leave and they cry alone, just so you don't see them worried and sad. So yeah, those siblings that you fought with half your life, do help so much more than they think they are helping. Husbands help too. Pretending that it is all good, listening to me cry and seeing me have wicked mood swings. (Ten times worse than when I was pregnant.) And they stick by your side even if they don't say the right things or even know what to say. He tried like hell and now looks at me when I talk and smiles. Wow he is really listening. I am tougher than he is now and he knows it! I had bone marrow taken out of my hip and it wasn't as bad as all the people, who had never had it done, and told me OMG its going to hurt so bad, can kiss my @$$ because it wasn't so bad. Every one should go register for bone marrow donation. It really isn't that bad and you might save some ones life!

(Understand that friends come and go, but what a precious few should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps and geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.)

This is so true. I have in the past few months talked to some of my very very best friends from when I was younger. It has been so great !!! They have been absolutely amazing!!!! Talking about the things we used to do and making me laugh so hard that I completely forgot what was going on in my life. Giving me awesome advice and sending me positive thoughts. They really do work and help. I am so happy to have them back in my life, and hope to keep them there forever and ever. They really are precious, as the song says.


I did do this a lot more too. Turned up the radio in the car and sang at the top of my lungs. The Kid Rock song, All summer long, Say by John Mayer and Life ain't always beautiful. Who cares what you sound like, but I know I sounded awesome. Haha! (Where do you think Jessy gets it from. I am just not as brave as her.)

(Don't mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.)

I am also very thankful to still have all my hair and that I didn't mess with it much when I was younger. I didn't need chemo and hope to keep it that way! Going through all of this makes you realize it's just hair. That it doesn't make you who you are. And maybe I would look cute with a bald head. (I doubt it) or a punk rock hair do when it grew back.

All this goes through your mind and more. After going through all this, it makes me realize that finding out you have Cancer isn't really the worse thing. It can make you live a little more, love a little more and appreciate little things a little more. I have good days and bad days. But at least I have a lot more days and it is my choice in how I live them and look at them. So I hope too be a more positive happy person for the rest of my days on this earth.

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9 responses

  • Betty Maxey

    Betty Maxey   gave props (17 Feb 2010):

    Kate, your story truly needs to be in some of those pamplets sitting around those doc's offices!!! I have read them all, and yours is better!!!

  • Dorothy Menosky

    Dorothy Menosky said (17 Feb 2010):

    I'm so sorry you had to tell this story, but you did it so well. Thank you for sharing. Good luck and God bless during this new journey.

  • Mike Melnotte

    Mike Melnotte gave props (17 Feb 2010):

    Thank you Kate...

  • dp *

    dp * gave props (17 Feb 2010):

    RAD !

  • Antonio Romero

    Antonio Romero gave props (19 Feb 2010):

    Kate your words touched my heartbrought and brought a tear to my eyes , inspired me to try to be a better person and appreciate life and those around me more. Thanks

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham (Deleted) gave props (21 Feb 2010):

    Thank you for sharing your words!! You are an inspiration! Great courage!!

  • petey whitelaw

    petey whitelaw gave props (21 Feb 2010):

    thank you. so much.

  • Sarah Terokowskie

    Sarah Terokowskie gave props (22 Feb 2010):

    Amazing story, thank you for sharing.

  • Richard Knight

    Richard Knight (Deleted) gave props (22 Feb 2010):

    Powerful! I have confidence in your ultimate success!

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