Live in the moment.
This is the final letter in a series about how Cancer is Personal. This one is from Sheila Walsh, a member of The H Foundation Advisory Board who is currently fighting stage 4 metastatic bladder cancer.
New year. New opportunity. New hope. Even if you have cancer. And because of research, in 2017, especially if you have cancer.
Last March, my doctor diagnosed me with stage 4 metastatic bladder cancer that spread to the lungs. She "gave" me six to nine months to live. Yet here I am, still kicking. As the new year begins, I assure you, it's not "borrowed time." I earned it. My husband, kids, mom, brothers, and friends - they all earned it, too. This is our time - it's personal to us. When you think about it, cancer is personal to everyone. We all know, or know of, someone with cancer.
When my doctor diagnosed me, even she was shocked. She could barely speak. No words exist to describe her surprise. I felt this way, too. "No way," I kept saying. "No way." As odd as it sounds, the diagnosis also fascinated me. After all, I was the only non-smoker among my three brothers, and a 5-day a week jogger for about 40 years - almost my entire life. But this is the way it goes. Anyone can get cancer. Cancer doesn't care. And so I don't care about cancer.
My kids, friends, and brothers, they're scared. I care about that. My mom, she's mad. I don't understand that. My husband, he's tired. My cancer caused that. But he's still here, every day… smiling, laughing, sharing and inspiring us to live a little more. Yes, cancer has worn me down physically, but it's given me power emotionally. It has also given me the ability to speak with more credibility than before I went bald. Standing so close to death, I have the power to say "everything is going to be okay," and people believe it.
I could tell you that I'd give it all back, though. That I'd trade back this new perspective for the "normal" life I had. But the truth is, this is the hand we were dealt. This is the life I was given. I am the mom my kids have. The woman my husband married. Every one of us is stronger because of it. So I'm taking it all. I'm keeping the power. I'm keeping my life.
There is a cure out there. Of course there is. And we're going to find it. That's what The H Foundation does. So I'm asking you to help fund the basic science cancer research that will find a cure. Why? Because this:
"The cancer is stabilized. Not spreading, not growing." Those are the words I heard from my doctor right before Christmas. New bladder cancer research is set for FDA approval. I qualify for IBM Watson Cancer Trial Matching and Genomics. All of this good news comes in a single moment. And I choose to live in the moment. And the next one, and the next one, and the next one…
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