Tuesday, May 19, 2009

my life surrounding cancer

"I thought I knew what ear was, until I heard the words You have cancer. Real fear came with an unmistakable sensation: It was as though all my blood started flowing in the wrong direction. My previous fears, fear of not being liked, fear of being laughed at, fear of losing my money, suddenly seemed like small cowardices. Everything now stacked up differently: the anxieties of life--a flat tire, losing my career, a traffic jam--were reprioritized into need versus want, real problem as opposed to minor scare. A bumpy plan ride, it wasn"t cancer."
~Lance Armstrong from It's Not about the Bike

If you just met me in recent years, you may not know of the cancer that has been around me in my life growing up. In fact I don't remember life without cancer. I cannot begin to express to you how happy I am, that I have never experienced cancer in my own body. I feel blessed abundantly to be 36 and cancer free. Even with the years of improper eating and little to no exercise, I've been able to avoid that diagnosis.

Though many people around us have had, live with or been affected by cancer. Many people have never experienced it first hand, within their family. It might be a coworker or a friends family, but never has it "hit home". Maybe the following lines will help you get a better understanding why I have decided to fight back against cancer, take control of my choices, participate in a Livestrong Challenge and hopefully help others along the way.

You see growing up, I did not completely understand why my cousin kept coming to stay with us. I almost thought he was a brother and my Mom well, she treated him like he is one of her own, still does. I did not understand it then, but have a crystal clear understanding now. They kept talking about cancer, surgery, chemotherapy and hospitals, I did not understand what any of it meant then.

I was young and my normally strong and very tall uncle Jime' (Pronounced Hi-me, Spanish nickname he kept from high school) all of a sudden looked not so good. One year he dressed up like Frankenstein and wore my cousins football shoulder pads and it scared the heck out of me if that gives you an idea. He got a funny skin color and he lost his hair. My cousin came to stay with us a lot during those times. As I am sure a difficult time to take care of yourself and a loved one, that a child becomes a lot no matter how much you love them. My aunt and uncle showed a tremendous amount of courage in the face of cancer and still do. Though this went on for several years, he fought back and won against cancer.

Little did I know, but that was just the beginning of my introduction to cancer. It happened again, all the whispers, and gathering around, my great-grandmother on my Dad's side was diagnosed with cancer and later died. Then my Dad's Father was diagnosed with lung cancer. I can remember watching a large man approximately 300 pounds and tall (just like my Dad) waste away in a hospital. Looking at the skin stretched across his skeleton is still an image I remember vividly, it was an advanced stage and to late to save him either.

I watched my Dad then, now understanding how he felt. Looking at this "giant" in your eyes now crippled by a beast that you cannot see to get your hands on to beat the shit out of. How defenseless it makes you feel and wanting to do what you can to help, but not feeling like it is ever enough.

Then once again when I was older I remember my cousin coming over again and tears shedding and the cancer word came back into our life. My uncle once again was fighting cancer. I was older now and was able to feel the sadness, fear and confusion. He lost his hair again, laughed when it grew back this time, that each time it comes back a little more grey. My uncle has had multiple forms of cancer off and on for many years. He is a strong and very brave man to take charge and set out to fight back without missing a step and alway having a kind smile and gentle nature.

Then in my first year out of high school, I was attending Virginia Western Community College and my grandmother on my Mom's side began having troubles. The doctors messed around with her medication, did tests and all sorts of stuff. We found out soon enough that she had ovarian cancer, which would be something that women in our family would have to watch out for in their own bodies. She was diagnosed, sent into surgery and died within two weeks.

Cancer is a ________________________ (fill in a line of cussing) to me. We hear cancer in our family we move into action, listen, hold hands and whatever is needed. Cancer has not taken my uncle, my Dad is still fighting (one month yesterday since his last radiation treatment), but it has taken many other family members. Minni, Pa-pa, Nannie, Sandy Re (a doggie Tammy and I rescued only had her for 6 months), Theresa, Tammy and that is just in my family. Although I have many friends still fighting cancer, I have many that have been lost too. Still yet there are the ones who won the fight. Way to go! You are amazing!

I am in a fight too! My fight is to fight back so nobody else has to learn what this fear is. The fear of cancer never leaves you! Your loved ones start having problems, we have in the back of our heads cancer. It is always there, right on the surface, cancer.

I'm fighting back so that families don't have to gather around the table to talk about treatment schedules, surgeries and planning their end of days. I'm fighting back and need your help! Please donate to help me reach my goal, I'm going to keep riding my bike and spreading awareness and changing the world one revolution at a time, because I can and because it is PERSONAL!
I'm in a fight and we're going to win with your help! Please visit my fundraising webpage and donate, add your name to the honor roll! http://philly09.livestrong.org/rhondachattin Thank you, I appreciate all of your support!

Let's end cancer now!

No comments:

Post a Comment