I was still stunned from being told two days before that I had colon cancer! How could that be even possible? Life as I knew it ceased with that one diagnosis, and I knew that from now on, there would be “Regina before cancer” and “Regina after cancer.” Two very different people destined to live very different endings.
Today, October 22, 2018, is the tenth anniversary of my cancer surgery. I had hoped that when I woke from the anesthesia that the doctor would tell me that they were wrong about the cancer. But, instead, not only were they right about the cancerous polyp, but the cancer had spread to some of the lymph nodes removed, so I had to undergo chemotherapy!
For me, having lived through early periods when the ravages to people’s bodies from the chemotherapy seemed worse than the cancer diagnosis, it seemed as though I had been given a death sentence. Then, a jolly, smiling, man entered my hospital room, Dr. Edmund Tai, oncologist, and advised me that chemotherapy had improved much and that I would only need to take the drugs for four months. Yes, there would be bad days, but, he would be with me throughout it.
I was relieved somewhat, for I had spent most of the two days since the diagnosis feeling sorry for myself, asking, “Why me?” to anyone who would listen. I thought God had let me down. I believed that He had forgotten just how wonderful I was, and that because I was the best thing since cornbread, I should not have to suffer cancer on top of having had a pacemaker installed for a heart condition, diabetes, countless lung issues, and kidney stones, all within the last two years.
Then, a wonderful woman that shared my hospital room, totally exasperated with me and my whining, reminded me that little kids at St. Jude’s Hospital was fighting for their lives, and asked me if I thought that they deserved their diagnoses. That one question influenced me to end my pity party, realizing that in this life, suffering and pain have no rhyme or reason. Not to take the luster off your happiness today, but the reality is that bad things happen to good people, and we just do not understand why.
Today, as I battle a cold and jet lag, having returned from 13 glorious days of sitting in sand and wading into the Mediterranean Sea, I am taking time to be thankful that ten years after that surgery, I am still cancer free and considered cured. I am a drawer of what is good and positive in life, not always taking the way to safety, but actually living my life.
I know that I am blessed, for Regina before cancer dreamed of traveling one day, but the Regina after cancer started making reservations and actually booking flights and securing reservations on Airbnb or at hotels. I no longer wear the disguise of a courageous person; instead, I live that courage every time I get on a plane, and it is worth it. I try to live as though tomorrow may not come.
James 4:13-15 states, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” Thank God, my story continues, by the will of God.
I learned on October 22, 2008 that life and the meaning of life for each of us can change in the space of time it takes for a doctor to deliver devastating news. We cannot just dream for that magical day to come when we can start to fulfill our dreams. No, today is the day to start fulfilling dreams, for tomorrow may be too late. You never know when life will throw you a curve ball, so, dream big and stay positive. Enjoy some of my pictures from Spain below.