Sunday, March 10, 2013

Five Years And Still Kicking!

This coming week will mark five years since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. For anyone who's ever battled cancer, hitting that five-year benchmark is a big deal.  The reason? Your chances of recurrence are supposed to fall significantly--according to medical statistics.

As I have stated in previous blogs, I prefer not to hang my hat onto a false sense of security. I have heard of too many cases when breast cancer has reared it ugly head again 10 to 15 years after initial diagnosis. I prefer to act as if that dastardly disease is silently sleeping inside me. So I must do everything in my power to keep the monster from reawakening.

It gives me a reason not to drink alcohol and sleep more. It helps me get my ass off the couch and walk outside for a while. I don't want to forget that I had cancer. I don't want to pretend that my life went back to the way it once was. Somehow, some way, I got cancer and even though no doctor can pinpoint exactly how I got it, abusing my body certainly wasn't a help.

Then again, there's probably more to it then just exercising and eating right. There's been a lot of hype about stress lately and how it fuels illness and disease. So it's no surprise that meditation is having a renaissance. When Oprah starts praising it, you know that's the beginning of a trend. If you sit still for awhile, it holds stress at arm's length, keeping it from totally invading your brain.

Beyond that, there are two decisions I made this past year to better my health. I quit drinking and started seeing a therapist. These choices required hard change from me. But now that I have the perspective, I know they were so very smart and right. The sobriety gave me clarity and the therapy gave me insight.

Armed with these newfound tools, I feel as though I have slowly climbed out of hole. I don't think feeling hopeless is good for fighting cancer. To hit the five year mark, you've got to attack on all fronts--physical, mental, spiritual. Every battle is personal. It' is up to you to find the weak links and fix them.

I don't claim to have a blanket remedy for everyone.  I do I know I'm still healthy and alive five years after being told I had Stage 3 breast cancer. For me, kicking cancer keeps me on my toes.

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