It’s Finally Fall and It’s Good to Be Alive!

Fall has finally arrived in the Northeast.  After several months of soggy hot summer weather, and a slow start to Fall, the temperatures are beginning to drop, and so are the leaves. For people like me who hate heat and humidity, when Fall begins I start to feel like I’m coming back to life.

Four years ago, Fall began to take on new meaning for me.  In mid-October of 2014, after three months of visiting all kinds of specialists who were having difficulty making a diagnosis, I began treatment for a fourth-stage metastasized cancer “of unknown origin in the lymph nodes of my groin. Despite numerous biopsies no one was sure where the cancer had originated which made treating me a guessing game.  My oncologist finally decided, for various reasons, that it was probably originally cervical cancer and began the appropriate treatment.

During treatment I withdrew into a cocoon-like state; everything that happened around me was a blur. My treatments ended in mid-November.  In late January I had a PT Scan to determine the outcome of my treatment and was scheduled to see my radiologist a few days later for the results.  I remember those few days as a period of intense awareness of the fact that the results of the scan would determine my fate.

The morning of the appointment with the radiologist, I was awakened by my husband holding the telephone toward me.  It was my radiologist saying “I have good news. You are cancer free!”  I was stunned.  Of course I had hoped for good results but I never dared to hope for complete remission.  It took a few moments for her words to register. “You don’t have to come in today for your appointment,  but I’ll see you in a month for your next appointment.”

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That was four years ago and I’m still (as far as we know) cancer free.  I don’t think any surviving cancer patient ever believes they are entirely free from cancer; there’s always a little voice sitting on your shoulder whispering into your ear: “Don’t get too confident; this could come back at any time.”  I know this because I’ve talked about it with other survivors. I’ve also learned from them to welcome each day I am alive and to experience life one day at a time. It’s true that having cancer is a life-changing event.  I am more compassionate with others who are struggling with health issues; I am more forgiving of myself for not being able to do many of the things I once did with ease; I am less tolerant of those who complain with little cause; and I seek what will bring me joy.

I am fortunate that I had just retired when I received my cancer diagnosis, so I have had the luxury of time to learn how to live my life in a better way.  I am as busy as I ever was before I had cancer, but now I do more of what I choose to do and less of what I “should” do.  In the past three years I have traveled extensively, joined a delightful senior yoga group, volunteered for educational programs at the nearby Walt Whitman Birthplace site, participate monthly in a Great Books  Discussion Group at the local library, read every book I can get my hands on and take walks whenever I can, weather permitting.

Fall has become my season of renewal; I hope I will be around to enjoy it for many years to come.  With the birth of my first grandchild, due in about six months, I have a lot to look forward to and be thankful for. Life is a gift that keeps on giving.

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barbara suter

I'm a retired teacher who enjoys writing and sharing in this; unique blogging community.

9 thoughts on “It’s Finally Fall and It’s Good to Be Alive!”

  1. I hope you’ll be around for many years to come…and then some more. 🙂 What a blessing to remain cancer free and able to welcome your first grand child. Whenever I read about all you do, I get inspired to take better advantage of every moment I have. Thank you for your inspirational posts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. For those of us who have not yet been touched directly by cancer, I think there is a sense that it will catch up with us one way or another. At least I often have this feeling. That said, I find that we can all learn a lot about how to lead a life of meaning precisely from those folks who are survivors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your gracious reply. I, too, felt that cancer would “catch me” some day…and it did. If it ever happens to you (I hope not) know that you will be in good company. Cancer patients are some of the wisest and warmest people I know.

      Liked by 1 person

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