Is It Worth It? Was It Worth It?
The following is a writing project that I had completed, based on a question asked of me. It was submitted for print, however, since I have heard nothing back on that submission, I am printing the story here.
A question was recently posed to me by a newly diagnosed patient. Is the treatment for cancer really better than just letting cancer run its course? In other words, is going through the process of the cure, worse than the cancer? Of course there are risks that come from the treatments, but it is often the short term side effects that raises the question.
Being a thirty-one year survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I have not forgotten what it was like to undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy, having undergone both. I remember all too well, the nausea, the fatigue, the hair loss, and the loss of control of my life. The treatments have changed over time, but unfortunately, the unpleasant side effects, physical and mental, are still faced by patients, challenging their will to reach remission.
Surviving my diagnosis was the only option that I gave myself. I was twenty-two years old and I had so much in life that I wanted to experience. There were things that I had planned and hoped for, such as building a family. I was too young to choose the option of giving up, before treatments had even begun.
Originally I thought perhaps just putting my thoughts in writing would help me with all of the thoughts that had raced through my mind, just as a source of venting and reflecting. Little did I know it would lead me to hosting a blog, publishing several articles about survivorship issues, and a once in a lifetime opportunity of having one of my writings published and performed by Broadway cast members for a wonderful program called Visible Ink.
Learning what really matters in life, the things I can control, and the things that I cannot has been the key to my survival.
Using my survivorship, I have striven to inspire others to get through their toughest moments, especially from one treatment to the next. Back when I was first diagnosed, I knew of no one else personally who had faced cancer. By the time my treatments had ended, four people close to me would face their own diagnosis. They would tell me, that my battle with Hodgkin’s would be their inspiration as they fought their own battle, as they knew no one else who had gone through cancer, other than me.
Taking time, I spend time with those close to me, taking trips, travelling, and experiencing activities and cultures literally all over the country and the world.
Every day since hearing the words “you are in remission,” I value the simple things, clouds, watching cows in a field, and especially hearing my children laugh.
Living long enough to see both of my daughters graduate from high school, college, get married, have children, some day to be called “grandpop,” are goals that were set many years ago. And those goals are very close to being reached. And this is just after thirty-one years so far, with hopefully many more to go…
Yes, it was ABSOLUTELY worth it!
I continue to cheer reading your .. articles. You magnify the word “Survivor”.. of course I feel cheated not being able to shout the same word but would of course NEVER take the jubilation that you
have earned sharing your joy, and most importantly sharing your case and continuing to help others so very much. L
Lynn, I completely understand how you feel. And that is why, I never truly celebrate my longevity. Yes, life has been good to me (and some bad moments), but I never regret the choice I made decades ago. But I have always said, it will be my goal to see some day, that all Hodgkin’s survivors have a chance at the longevity that I have experienced. And it starts not just with awareness, but the willingness of medicine to give a damn, not just a few of them.
My next post will address this.