Recently, I had a test performed by the VA through their Grail’s Cancer Study. I just received my results. And though I know in my heart and mind that I am cancer free, I still couldn’t bring myself to immediately open the email which held my results. There was that insidious feeling of, “What if?” That fear all of us who have previously been diagnosed with cancer have; the thought of the possibility that I might no longer be cancer free and would need to start aggressive treatment once more.
I recall the months before I was actually diagnosed, standing before my bathroom mirror and saying to myself, “Charley, there’s something wrong with you; you’re sick.” Though fear kept me from scheduling a doctor’s appointment for a few months, it wasn’t until I discovered the lump in my right breast that I stopped ignoring my inner voice and scheduled a doctor’s appointment immediately. There was no longer any way I could continue to ignore nor quiet the voices inside my head warning me of danger.
Anyone living with cancer, or another chronic illness, knows there’s no avoiding the fear of “what if…” Yet, we should not allow those fears to prevent us from immediately addressing our situation. Instead of staying mired in fear, use your doubts and anxiety to:
· motivate you to take control of your health
· plan some time with loved ones
· create an exercise/movement program for yourself to get your body into action and decrease some of that lingering pain and stiffness
· enroll in online or in-person programs which empower you and bring joy to your life
· and anything else that empowers and motivates you
Regardless of any test results, these activities are fabulous for your physical and mental well-being.
So…back to those test results…I did open the email to discover that there were no signs of any of the fifty (50) cancers the study searched for in my blood or DNA, reaffirming my belief of being cancer free. Talk about feeling the stress whoosh out my body and the relief I felt.
I celebrated this fabulous affirmation by going to the Kennedy Space Center. There, I marveled at the vastness of space, the moon, the earth, the rocket ships. I never realized how tremendous those rocket ships were. Standing before them was mind-blowing. I even met Charles Walker, an astronaut who traveled into space on three different shuttle missions. Wow, you really never know who you’ll meet on any given day. Yes, I would have gone to the Kennedy Space Center if the results were different—I’d probably have cried a bit while there too as I marveled at the moon and Mars. However, I would have mentally done exactly the same thing; reminded myself that every moment is precious and it was up to me to determine how I acknowledged and celebrated it.
We all fear something. Yet, it’s what we do with that fear that’s important. Instead of letting fear control your life, use fear to propel you forward, to take action, to empower yourself. Like Susan Jeffers says, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”
Acknowledge the fact that you’re still here! You’re still alive. Live your life to its fullest potential regardless of whether you are currently dealing with cancer or you are cancer free. Life is vast and ever changing; relish all its nuances.
Dr. Charley Ferrer is a world-renowned Clinical Sexologist and Breast Cancer Advocate. She has lectured throughout the US, Latin America and China on sexual health, self-empowerment, and breast cancer awareness. Her play, Breast Cancer Diaries won two awards for Best Drama and Best Short Script. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, she established the Cancer Tamer Foundation to provide education and empowerment to women (and men) with breast cancer. She is the creator of the Breast Cancer Mermaid Art Project and numerous workshops geared toward living and thriving despite breast cancer. Discover more at: www.CancerTamer.org