Alice in Cancerland
Thanks for making me realize how much ass I was really capable of kicking.
I mean, it isn’t very often in life that we are offered second chances.
Cancer was mine.
I always said I was going to be somebody. Do something important. And as I struggled for years with at least 4 different health problems, unaware that You were behind most of them, my self-confidence and esteem disintegrated. Thanks to YOU, people accused me of not training well, or enough, for marathons and triathlons. Even doctors gave my round figure disbeliving glances when I called myself an athlete.
And I hadn’t felt like myself in years. You were like a rabidly depressive alien that abducted my old self, the smiling, energetic and unfailingly positive woman that my friends and family had grown to love. In her place, you left a bitter, sorrowful, dark figure.
Thanks to YOU, I lost almost all of my fight.
To say I wasn’t terrified when I found out you were Cancerous would be a lie, but I was actually more depressed than anything. I cried for days. No, I wouldn’t have to undergo months of chemo and weeks of radiation; you had already rebelled against your decay through years of sluggishness, bizarre health problems ranging from vertigo to heart murmurs, infections and -itises, and blinding depression – all of which nearly or actually hospitalized me at different times.
After all the other personal trials I had undergone, having cancer was merely the icing on a very shitty cake.
When I knew You, and Your Cancer, were my problem, I felt like my life was over.
The truth was, it was just beginning.
Now, without You around, I don’t have to deal with heart arrythmias so bad I require salt pills and beta blockers. Without major depressive disorder and bulimia trailing along behind me everywhere I go, my self-esteem and efficacy have soared. Even my internal dialogue is different.
I’ve also grown a giant set of balls. Through my 4th marathon attempt, I agreed to fundraise for the American Cancer Society, which asked me to commit to raising the most I’ve ever raised for a charity in my life. I went out on a limb and introduced myself to several professors in order to find out more about potentially becoming a teaching assistant or research assistant – and ended up doing both. (Why wait to fulfill my lifelong dream of teaching and doing research? May as well do it now!) I satisfied my desire both to start my own mini-business for extra income and to donate more to charities and interact with positive women by becoming a consultant for a major cosmetics company. I made at least a half dozen phone calls and mended fences with people who played integral parts in the darker times of my life.
I began training regularly again, even lost a little (LITTLE) weight. My financial life stabilized, my skin and hair improved, my stress levels fell. And guess what? In 6 months, I returned to my previous level of fitness, if not better.
I am not out of the woods yet. Thyca recurs often. I may need more radioactive iodine, even another surgery.
And, today, I found out that I need more tests for my inner ear disorders that cause my vertigo.
But I’m ok with that.
See, the Me With a Thyroid would have curled up in a ball and cried for days, even taken a leave of absence from work. Terrified to be an “ill” person again, I would have given up on training, fundraising, maybe even life.
But Me Without a Thyroid? I’m going to kick ass.
I know too many people who have received a second chance in the form of a very harsh blow: death of a loved one, cancer, foreclosure, divorce, even partial paralysis. Some of them instead chose to make an opportunity to do things differently, see things more clearly, and appreciate even the small bits of quality in daily life.
I realized that I have been given a second chance, and I made a very conscious decision to take it – and never, ever look back.
Meggan Ann Johnson
Lake Mary, FL
TT March 2010
RAI April 2010
1-year Cancerversary 1/15/11
Bio: Feisty cancer survivor, amateur triathlete/marathoner, adventurous life-lover, all-around good time. I am training for my 4th marathon for the benefit of The American Cancer Society while working several jobs and preparing for grad school. Having Thyroid Cancer and now being without a thryoid have changed my life . . . surpsisingly, for the better.
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