By Cat Phillips In 2010 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and then breast cancer in 2011. I went through chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, as well as holistic and integrative treatments. The lymphoma quickly healed, but breast cancer continued to haunt me. I experienced several recurrences which resulted in excessive surgeries, treatments and cosmetic procedures.
A few days ago I was scrolling through social media and I came across this quote: “You mastered survival mode, now it’s time to live.” and so I paused and read it again and again and then I asked myself, “What do I define as survival mode? Did I master survival mode or am I still surviving? Am I really living? Can you ever master survival mode?” So then I went on to think about everything that has been going on in my life so far, both past and present and realized that I find myself going back and forth into survival mode, maybe all of us do (at least for now).
My mantra was the quote “80% of success is just showing up”. The medical staff does all of the physical work. I just had to convince myself I was fearless and stay positive, which definitely became more difficult as treatments went on.
These were all the thoughts running through my head when my doctor told me the nodule in my neck was cancerous. I’d seen what cancer means firsthand, first in high school when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’d seen it again when my father had surgery for melanoma. The night my doctor called with my test results, I was with my sister as she recovered from her most recent reconstruction surgery after her second fight with breast cancer. My family knows cancer.
“Cancer Mom" -- I know you’re not yet used to that title. It’s a title I never wanted, either. None of us did. I still remember the first time that someone called me a "cancer mom" -- my reaction was reminiscent of a shudder. The title feels like a shoe that doesn't quite fit right. A waistband that is too tight and uncomfortable. It hurts. You want to keep tugging at it to make it feel better. You eventually want to rip it off. Well mama, you now belong to a club to which you never wanted an invite.