After fighting mesothelioma for three years, I’ve survived it all.
I’ve had two HIPEC procedures, endured countless chemotherapy sessions and finally remission. When I think back to my early symptoms that something was wrong, I remember sharp pains in my right side. I remember telling my friends not to make me laugh because it hurt.
My stomach was bloated all the time. I was given muscle relaxers and laxatives, yet nothing worked. After eventually getting an umbilical hernia repaired, I was finally diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.
The odds of recurrence are pretty high, but since I choose not to read the bleak statistics, I can’t be specific.
Now in remission, my battle is a little different.
During all my HIPEC procedures and chemotherapy sessions, I was fighting for my life. I spentdays in ICU, weeks as an inpatient and more nauseating trips to the bathroom than I care to remember. Brushing my teeth was a chore. Living in a constant state of nausea for two years was horrible.
My surgeon happily told me that I was cancer free on June 8, 2012. I fought for three years to finally hear those words. I couldn’t believe it. I was ecstatic! I was a walking miracle. This news meant I could finally live my life worry free, right? Not a chance.
I get tested every 90 days with CT scans, MRIs and other tests. So far, it’s all good. Although I’m three years in remission, I find myself fighting a different fight. Now I find myself fighting for my sanity.
As if living life 90 days at a time wasn’t bad enough, I now find that I’ve become a hypochondriac.
For every pain and cramp I feel, my mind automatically thinks it’s a recurrence. Of course, pizza for dinner and ice cream for dessert would hurt anyone. Most people would reach for Tums or Pepto Bismol for bloating and gas pains. I automatically diagnose myself, panic and pray that it’s not a tumor. Despite the good news from my physician, I’m constantly talking myself off the ledge.
Each day is a precious gift. I constantly remind myself to live 24 hours at a time. Worrying about what could happen is a waste of what could be a productive day. When I find myself drifting into the darkness of depression and the “what if’s,” I go for the most uplifting book of all — the Bible.
I have affirmations like “I shall live and not die,” that I repeat to myself, until I believe it. I also firmly believe that I have a purpose and a mission which has not yet been completed.
What’s a mesothelioma patient in remission supposed to do? Focus on now. Live in the moment. Don’t waste precious time speculating on what could be or what’s to come. If today is a good day, let it be a good day. Fight when it’s time to fight, and rest when you’re not fighting.
I still have another bakery to open, a nonprofit to launch, children to raise and a house to build. Death is nowhere in my future. I have too much left to accomplish.