Monday, June 16, 2008

I will survive

Almost 5 years ago, I noticed a small lump in my neck. I told my then-fiance Jorge, "Dude, I think I have cancer." He laughed and said "you don't have cancer."

A couple months went by. The lump grew and was joined by another, then another. I was anxious, but hoped they would just go away, because my health insurance has expired when I graduated from my Masters program. Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and went to see the doctor.

You know something's up when the doctor calls in a favor to have you get your tests done the next day. First came the physical exams, then the blood tests, then the biopsies, with progressively bigger chunks of my body removed.

Waiting for the results of the last biopsy, the one that would tell if I truly did have cancer, I already knew what the results would be. For two days I cried; the tears just streamed steadily out of my eyes as if I had some sort of fistula of the tearduct. Jorge couldn't understand why I was upset. "You don't even know if there's something wrong," he said. "It might be nothing."

But I knew. And what scared me the most was that I may never have children, something I had always wanted and taken for granted. I couldn't imagine a life with no family. I feared that my soon-to-be husband would no longer want to be with me if I couldn't have kids. When the diagnosis came (and I was able to finally say "I told you so") it wasn't a shock at all, but I was far from resigned to a childless life. My doctor worked with me right from the start to try to preserve my fertility despite the chemo and radiation.

So when I say that my son is a blessing and a miracle, it is not merely a new parent's pride. I feel so lucky to be here today, with my beautiful son. I got to celebrate that fact last week, when I walked the survivor's lap at the "Relay for Life" fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The only thing that dampened my joy in being able to walk that loop with Milo was knowing that my mom didn't make it to the survivor's team with me. She would have gotten a real kick out of it.

I've been told that 1 in 3 Americans would be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. My two sisters really owe me for taking that one for the team. ;-)

We leave tomorrow morning for a two week trip off to Montana, Yellowstone, and wherever else the wind (OK, the interstate) takes us. So expect lots of pictures soon!


Pam said...

you rock, gwyn! and milo is an adorable miracle. :)

Shannon said...

What a great post, Gwyn! Truly inspiring.

jcelestelay said...

Congrats on the 5-year anniversary! That's a huge deal. As a fellow cancer survivor, you have reminded me how blessed I am to be having my baby (because I too thought it would be impossible).