You may have to fight the battle more than once to win it
March 30, 2016 will mark 1 year since my esophagectomy surgery. 1 year since my Angel surgeon, Dr. Compeau, saved my life. And in this year, I have endured a lot and celebrated a lot. I’ve lost nearly 100lbs (thank goodness I was always…ummm…let’s say “pleasantly plump”) and had to put up with a lot of medical issues, but it’s been balanced with the some of the best moments of my life (like getting married!). The moments that remind me of what I’m fighting for.
You see, when a person lives through such a major, life-threatening event, it becomes almost instinctual to block it from our memory; to make that moment less traumatic. I don’t remember any of the pain I was in post-surgery in ICU. I remember being in pain I just can’t remember what it felt like. Just like this last visit to ICU. I actually don’t remember a full 12 days of my life that I was in the hospital. My guess is that the mind can do amazing things like protecting a person from recalling pain.
It’s because of this that I’ve been able to stay positive throughout this journey. I don’t think I ever really fully understood the severity of what I’ve been through: The pain and trauma my body has endured, the psychological pressure this journey has put me under, the attempt to balance fear and hope and deal with all the emotional distress that comes with having Cancer. When I think about it (in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep) it becomes a bit overwhelming for me. It’s like this heavy weight sitting on my chest that I have to pick away at piece-by-piece as I find my way back from that place – where I am just plain Rosie, who has fears and feels helpless, to a place where I am positive and motivated and feel invincible again – where I’m RosieStrong.
This last incident that I went through (from which I continue to recover at what feels like the slowest pace ever) really put everything into perspective for me. I understand now how severe my situation is, how I can go from feeling great to landing myself in emergency a second later. I understand that my life is dependent right now on how hard I fight. It’s become blatantly obvious that If I give up mentally, my body will give up physically.
So I fight.
I’ve been pushing myself and fighting mentally and physically everyday for the last 16 months without any break, without a moment when I haven’t thought “keep fighting Ro, don’t give up”, without a second where I get to just be worry-free, and with the exception of my wedding day, I haven’t gone a day where I feel like me. Like good ol’ Rosie.
But, 1 year ago, on March 30, 2015 I was given a second chance at life and even though I have to fight cancer for a second time now, I can’t possibly waste this new opportunity at life.
So I fight.
And now, with this newly-discovered understanding of my situation, I feel even stronger and more empowered and I will endure and fight whatever comes my way, knowing that my mind will dictate how my body behaves; how my body survives.
And it will survive.