Today, I sit by my desk 17 months after I was not only diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer Stage III aka Terminal Cancer. That's right, last year was told that I had Esophageal Cancer Stage III and that I wasn't even a candidate for surgery anymore, doctor said they could do some Chemotherapy but only to improve my quality of life and that I only had about a year left to live.
I then changed doctors and the new one said it was actually stage II and that surgery was now a possibility; however, when I went in for some pre-surgery tests, it turned out it was really stage III and surgery was a no go. It was then when they gave me a new dr., a woman, and she told me it was indeed stage III and they couldn't do surgery anymore but they could so chemotherapy and perhaps radiation afterwards, the point being, the same as before: to give me a good quality of life. I agreed to it because the least I wanted was to live the rest of my life (however long it was) being fed through a tube, so I did the treatment. Chemo for 5 months, then cancer did improve to the point I was then eligible for surgery, so they did it and it got even better; then, they gave me radiation everyday for about 2 months. When I was done, I was told I was "pretty much" clear, I am quoting because "pretty much" here means "almost" and that is due to the fact that I was doing much better than when the whole treatment began, however, not perfectly fine as there's still one tiny little lymph node (about 180mm) that they -for some odd reason- could not get rid off neither with surgery nor with the radiation, so that little sucker is still there, reminding me everyday that I am not quite off the hook...just yet.
However, this does feel like a big win, you know? When they tell you you have one year left to live and then you're still there a year and a half after that and doing better than you thought and almost living a "normal" life...well, it sure feels like you're winning at life!
I think I am very lucky, to be honest, I know so many people don't even get this chance and I believe that I got it for a reason; because I still have things to do, people to meet, goals to achieve, things to learn and, above all, people to love, and maybe even lessons to teach, not with lectures but by setting an example with my life and how I live it.
So that's what I am doing now and what I wanna keep on doing, sharing my story with people because you never know, there might be someone who's going through the same and may need some courage and/or inspiration from listening to your story, from seeing how you fought and are still fighting to live and to have a life while you're at it, to enjoy more, to love more. I don't necessarily talk about my cancer all the time nor to all the people I meet, but I do do it when I consider it will be helpful to someone's life, when I feel like I will be able to contribute with a little something to someone's life or view of it.
I was definitely not expecting this to happen. My mom was diagnosed with Renal Cell Cancer one day and she passed away only 15 months later, so I most definitely was not expecting to surpass that. Though now even just passing that makes me feel like I'm already doing better, you know? It pains me to think how bad it all was for my Mom and how sad it was knowing how much she loved life, so I definitely think this happened for a reason and that I'm still here for a reason and I need to make that count.
I just had my second post-treatment checkup this week and everything is still the same, not a 100% clear as that little sucker (the lymph node) is still there, but at least it hasn't grown or spread anywhere else. So doctor said all we can continue to do for now is continue to observe carefully and watch out for the symptoms, which -needless to say- are a complete pain in the a*s.
Sometimes, I hate the side effects so much so that I feel like everything I wen through was not worth it and that I shouldn't have done it...but then I think about it again and snap out of my stupidity and realize how actually worth it was regardless the pain and discomfort I go through every single day. And I now feel extremely GRATEFUL and incredibly BLESSED every day that I get to still be here, to share life with my sister whom I love so much and whose help and support I'm here for. I am happy to be here and I am, again, excited about life and what's to come, for as long as that might be, it doesn't matter, I am planning on making count, for me, for my sister and for the people who love me and support me and who have been there for me throughout all of this.
So, even if I am not completely in remission now, I think I can say I have survived cancer and glad to have done it, I will continue to do so for as long as I have courage in my soul, energy in my body, sharpness in my mind, love in my heart and, of course, air in my lungs.