You are the same person today that you were before you heard the news. You simply know something about yourself that you did not know before. When I was diagnosed I took heart in the following: In 1980 my father was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Several months later, a robber shot him at his jewelry store. You should know that my dad is still with us (thank God). From this I learned that an illness does not have to kill you, nor does good health guarantee a long life. Treasure every day and tell your family how much you love them every chance you get. Pray for the chance to see your grandchildren's good times (even if you are currently childless — this prayer covers a lot of ground). Look both ways when you cross the street, and if you hear a loud noise or feel really strong winds—RUN! It's a scary world out there. You should survive the breast cancer, but I am not as certain about terrorists and hurricanes!
When I was diagnosed I sat myself down and thought, "This is life's way of telling me that I am doing something wrong." I determined that I was both very ambitious and very lazy, which put me in the position of always feeling guilty about what I was not getting done. I gave that up! Now, if there are things I feel I should be doing but don't have the time or energy for (like being more politically active, doing more research or volunteering more), I don't feel guilty. Instead I say, "Now is not the time. Please God, I will have the time to get to those things when my children are grown or when I retire. But now is not the time."
In an odd way I am grateful for having had the cancer experience. I am a better mother, wife and nurse because of it. I am more understanding and I've learned to let go of anger and frustration. I pray more, laugh more and more greatly appreciate just being here. In raising my children, I've lived by the motto, "The good thing about frustration is that it makes such a good story afterward." I'm not sure I believed that before the cancer, though.
This year I will walk the 5K with my 15 year-old daughter. May God bless all of us.
Dr. Polly Roberts