Cancer Survivors Must Bloom Where Planted

The last year was tough, but with a new cancer treatment center and other opportunities, I’m going to sit tight and bloom where planted.

I was in a depressed mood recently. Like all cancer survivors, I was battling all the usual side effects of cancer. For me, that included funky blood counts, constant treatments, numerous trips to the doctors and having to make life-altering decisions about my treatments.

I was tired — tired of fighting, tired of appointments, tired of the constant fatigue, tired of anxiety — tired of it all! I began to wonder if the prediction of several oncologists (that I had one to three years left to live) would come true and if I should just give up.

Of course, after 12 years with this awful cancer (they are all awful) I was not about to give in. I tried to figure out why I was so upset.

With the pandemic and its far-reaching and unpredictable consequences, the prospect of taking another cruise is slim to none. It was the only way for me to travel to other countries because I could “Go to my room” when tired and still visit places like Canada and Scandinavia and Alaska. I doubt now if I will ever feel safe cruising again.

I love the holidays and am afraid to fly to see family because the one time I did since the pandemic, I got COVID-19. My doctors have advised me not to try for a while and I was disheartened.

I sunk deeper into depression and talked to several close friends. This cycle of depression was going to be more difficult to overcome than most. I had lost the terrific service dog I had for 14 years so was mourning her and the oncologist I had for 12 years moved to a warmer climate. I hate changes.

Then something happened which changed my entire outlook. The tide slowly began to shift, and local events began to open up. The book club I belong to had a fantastic young writer come and speak, which always inspires me.

Also, the new cancer center that I will go to is finally opening next month! I have been a part of the Patient Advisory Committee for the center for over five years. This inspiring group of people helped the architects, the administration at the local hospital and future patients with several great ideas. We talked about privacy in the rooms, made technical suggestions like each television having captioning, and suggested a private room for the dedicated nurses and staff to get away when they needed to debrief. The people in charge were fantastic and listened to our suggestions. They even enlisted our opinions on the artwork, so we chose calming pictures.

I was then contacted to be the representative of the group at the ribbon-cutting ceremony and was shocked and humbled. A former editor who met me through my articles for the Aplastic Anemia and MDS Foundation is stopping for dinner on his way to Chicago from Maryland.

I have a little hearing-ear dog to alert me in my home and she is an absolute delight. I also have several speaking engagements and book signings coming up. My publisher and I are meeting about my new book in September. I have just returned from a fantastic driving trip to Canada. CURE® asked me to assist in selecting the next round of Lung Cancer Heroes®. I learned a lot, met great people and it was all done safely via videochat!

Finally, it occurred to me that maybe I am supposed to bloom where I am planted. I cannot jump in a plane and fly to national conventions all over the country like I once did. Honestly, I miss the cruises and had dreamed of visiting Hawaii, the Panama Canal and Italy. However, I can lead a fulfilling life here at home between my many chemo and medical appointments.

The Bishop of Geneva, Saint Francis de Sales inspired the quote “Bloom where you are planted.” I am doing that now since all we have is the present and enjoying myself!

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.