The days are such a blur. It’s crazy to think of what my body has just endured, not only in the last two months since the cancer was discovered, but in all the months leading to its diagnosis when cancer was growing in my body, but I was not yet aware.
Yesterday a friend sent a link to some interviews that I did in January and it confirmed what I thought to be true, cancer had been in my body for quite some time. I could see my lymph node protruding from my neck as I moved my head in the video. I can’t tell you exactly when this cancer arrived, but I can tell you when I noticed something was “off”.
A year ago I had just published my first book and was excitedly working on the next. As publication neared, I noticed my energy waning. Now for the average energetic person that may seem to make sense. I had two small boys, a full-time teaching job, balancing my passion of advocacy, as well as maintaining my relationship with my husband, family, and friends. It makes sense that I would feel tired.
But, that didn’t make sense for me. I don't get tired. EVER.
So, I did what I don’t often do-I listened to my body and rested. I made a promise to myself and to my husband that as soon as the book published in November, I would take a break from my other projects. I would be satisfied to go to work and come home, that that would be enough for my soul.
And it was. Enough.
But, I was still SO TIRED.
I ate healthy meals. I went to bed early with the boys. I didn’t do extra stuff.
I am a school teacher. My immune system is amazing. I rarely get sick. But this year I did- a few times. Which is why when my lymph node swelled, I noticed but didn’t take notice. That’s what lymph nodes do, they swell when they’re doing their job. I had had a sore throat for some time, but along with that swollen node, I assumed I was successfully fighting a cold or allergies or both.
Little did I know…
Here’s the thing, I can sit and analyze the how, the when, the why, but it won’t change anything other than perhaps answer some curiosity. The important thing is that I went to the doctor. Eventually when I realized this wasn’t a run of the mill cold, I went to the doctor and demanded a biopsy. I had already watched that lymph node long enough, I was unwilling to watch it a day longer. And then the roller coaster began leading us to where I am now.
Sitting on my bed, day 12 from my first surgery and day 5 from my second surgery. One less tonsil and 50 less lymph nodes with an enormous scar and a pretty big empty space in my throat. And I am in pain. It’s managed pain, but pain nonetheless. My jaw is sore from being manipulated, my teeth hurt from grinding through stress, my tongue is numb in some places and raw in others from being clamped during surgery, my shoulder is sore from carrying my arm through nerve damage, my incision feels like my skin is being pulled, my throat hurts each time I swallow, and my skull hurts from all the pain radiating into one central spot. Not to mention that eating and talking are my biggest obstacles right now.
But, I am alive.
This is temporary.
And, I believe it will be worth it.
I don’t feel sorry for myself and I don’t want you to either. But in full transparency (as I try to live my life) this is the real deal. This is hard and it hurts.
I am still strong.
I am still a warrior.
I am still ME.
But, I encourage you to always listen to your body. Go to the doctor and don’t delay. Demand that you get seen and don’t accept being placated. I saw 3 doctors before this cancer was discovered, each doctor reassuring me that it was probably “nothing”. I knew better and you do too. You know your body and you are in charge of you. Pay attention and make others pay attention, too.
I don’t even allow myself to think about what would have happened if those cells were given a little more time to play in my lymph nodes, those little messengers being sent all over my body.
So listen to yourself.
Know that it’s not normal to feel “off”.
And when you do, find the reason why.
Chances are you only need a little more exercise, nourishing food, and fresh air. But, in the case it’s something more, I love you too much to wait. Get healthy. I plan on being here way too long, I want you here too. (I am not really sure who needs to hear that today, but if it’s speaking to you- then it must be you.)
I’m heading back to sleep now. Or to watch TV. Or to listen your playlist. That’s really helping me stay present. I love you friends. SO MUCH.
This is really hard, but easier with you beside me. Please keep showing up. We are still at the beginning of this road.
To follow my medical progress and the needs of my family: https://www.giveinkind.com/inkinds/324/lands-family-love
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.