First, I was invited to participate in Cervivor’s Stirrup Stories: A Narrative Beyond the Speculum. Tamika Felder is the heart of Cervivor, a non-profit who’s mission is to educate, advocate and bring cervivor sisters together for support and love.
It can be difficult to open yourself up to the world, share intimate details of your life with complete strangers. Clearly, I’m okay with it because I write this blog. But it is still scary. People can be hurtful and unkind. But at the Stirrup Stories event in D.C., all fears subsided the moment I heard the first of thirteen other women share her story. That night, I was moved to tears and laughter, and love. Each story was a woman showing us that we are not alone – that taking control of our bodies is important. The world feels less scary and hope feels obtainable when you surround yourself with love and compassion. That night, I had the added benefit of my BFF sharing this moment with me. How wonderful was that?!
I am deeply grateful to Tamika and all the beautiful Cervivor sisters I had met. They are forever in my heart.
Secondly, this month I learned a new phrase: “salvage chemotherapy“. Kinda clinical and harsh sounding I know.
My oncologist and I, who I have had a close relationship with for the past five years, decided we should ‘remove our rose-colored glasses’ (as I put it). Due to the progression of my tumors while on the Opdivo trial, treatment with that drug ended. I have started back on Taxol and Carboplatin — which we hope will shrink the tumors that may be causing intestinal blockage. There is no curative treatment at this time. The salvage chemo option *is* my option.
I have been living on and occasionally off my cancer for five years. And yes, I call it my battle. But the key word is ‘living’. I live my life my way; my ‘bucket list’ is simple: spend as much time as I can with my family/village and embrace the little things that make me smile.
I think my Great-Aunt Anna used the ‘more sunny days’ saying as a way to avoid telling her age, but it has become my daily mantra. I no longer count my years but only count my sunny days. In my case, a sunny day doesn’t have to be void of clouds or rain, just void of keeping me down forever.