Tami’s story – dealing with a recurrence of cancer
I am so pleased to share with you today a guest post by Tami Boehmer, particularly as it deals with a fear many of us survivors share – the fear of a cancer recurrence. Tami shares with us how she coped with just that reality and turned it into a transformative experience.
I spent five years after my initial diagnosis of stage II breast cancer fearing the worst. Yes, the fear of a recurrence subsided after a couple of years, but it was always in the back of my mind. Every pain, every time a friend had a recurrence, my fears resurfaced.
So what happens when what you fear the most occurs? For me, it meant a total transformation…and not in a bad way.
I remember my visit to my breast surgeon’s office on a cold, dreary February afternoon in 2008. I insisted on seeing her a month earlier than my regular check-up because of a large lump I discovered in my right armpit. I had worried from time to time about some swelling and hardness.
My worst nightmare came true – after five years of being cancer-free, it had come back with a vengeance. The tumor was a very large nine centimeters in diameter.
I had a barrage of scans to see if the cancer spread. I was working as a public relations specialist at a large teaching hospital at the time. I remember retrieving my results and sitting in my office, staring at my PET scan report. There were spots in lymph nodes in my chest and, most worrisome, my liver. It was stage IV breast cancer.
My first thought was my daughter, then eight years old. I knew I had to do everything I could to be there for her.
I’ve always gained strength from hearing success stories of other survivors, especially people like Lance Armstrong who beat stage IV cancer. I started seeking out other survivors who overcame or were living well with a metastatic cancer diagnosis. The Internet is a wonderful way to connect with hundreds of cancer survivors.
I’ve heard so many powerful success stories; it seems beating the odds of terminal cancer is more of a norm, rather than an exception. When I struggle, I think of how the people I’ve met never gave up despite setbacks. And almost all of them are thriving today.
Fears still come up, especially when I experience an unusual pain or when someone dies from cancer. But I’m able to temper them now with gratitude and optimism…despite what medical reports may indicate. I am learning to give myself pep talks and counter negative thoughts with powerful, positive ones.
I visualize my treatments, along with all my holistic practices, doing their work on those pesky, little cancer cells. I tell myself I’m healthy and whole. Most of all, I turn my attention to staying in the moment and enjoying everything around me. Every day is a gift, and I wake up thanking God for it. I know by doing this, I’m taking an active role in my healing.
Paying attention poor survival rates, I believe, can be detrimental. Statistics are just numbers that lump together a large, diverse group of individuals. They don’t apply to me, and they certainly don’t apply to the people who’ve shared their stories of hope with me.
I believe there is no such thing as false hope. Hope for me has been the most powerful drug, one that will outlast the effects of any chemo. Miracles do happen, and I plan to be one of them.
About Tami Boehmer
Tami is the author of From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds which is available for purchase on Amazon and also Kindle.
Tami also shares inspiration and information at www.MiracleSurvivors.com.