In 2021, I faced my mortality in a surprising new way. On March 24, I had a biopsy. On March 29th, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. On April 28th, I had a radical hysterectomy. About 6 weeks later, the pathology reports showed that the cancer had been completely removed. I did not need further treatment: no drugs, no radiation, no chemo, no more surgery. Just rest and regaining strength.
Today is World Cancer Day. While my cancer journey was short and complete, and my type of cancer is not likely to return, I am still a cancer survivor. I don't take this for granted. While I have hope beyond this life, I am grateful for more days to live on this earth.
After my diagnosis, I joined a couple of cancer support groups on Facebook. One day I realized those words change everything: "You have cancer."
One morning I was waking up and wondering what is this feeling?
Insult. That's what it was. I felt like I was being insulted and picked on by a big bully taunting me about something that's not true.
The surgery got all of my cancer. It was such a mercy and grace to have such swift and definitive intervention.
My dad often says things are "about as funny as death and taxes." Maybe we could add cancer to the list.
I started doctoring for other reasons and one test led to another and eventually led to hearing a cancer diagnosis at noon on Monday, March 29th, 2021. Without symptoms, some days the whole thing felt a bit like a bad practical joke.
A few hours after receiving my diagnosis, Kevin and I had an appointment with our weight loss doctor. (By the way, did you know that endometrial cancer is often correlated to excess weight? Something to do with estrogen dominance.) She said, "Okay, so you'll have the surgery." Me, a little surprised: "I will? Okay. And do I have to use the word 'cancer?" Doctor: "Yes."
Humour was helpful in getting used to the word. My husband, Kevin, has not shared my sense of humour. One day in April he asked me to do something simple and, without thinking, I sassed, "I can't. I have cancer." That gave me a good giggle, but he didn't think it was funny at all. His feelings ranged more along the lines of concern for my well-being and gratitude for early detection.
My Mom has written a lot of humorous songs. Here's a link to one she recorded with my aunts Sherry Olson and Linda Pilling. I'm sure any quirkiness in my perspective on life comes from Mom! https://colleenmccubbin.bandcamp.com/track/state-of-mind
Photo: October 2010, Thanksgiving weekend, combined birthday party for Mom (Betty Taylor) and Dad. This was also the weekend Kevin and I got engaged.
My former roommate Leanne and I used to say to each other, "I can't think with all this hair!" Some days that wasn't far from the truth, so before my cancer surgery last April, I cut my hair to simplify and clarify a few things! (Don't worry, Kevin, I'll grow it again!)
My second intention was to donate the ponytail. In 2020 I helped a local family publish a book about their daughter and her fight with cancer (www.thealove.ca). Soon after Thea's death, the family established a memorial fund in her name and started receiving donations. Last year's book sales took the fund to $10,000, which enabled the family to convert it to an endowment.
One organization that supported Thea's family during her illness was Kids Cancer Care and they are among the beneficiaries from Thea's fund. Kids Cancer Care recommends Angel Hair for Kids, so that finalized my donation decision.
Thea lost her hair, but instead of a wig, she enjoyed a delightful wardrobe of hats!
I have joined a group of survivors who often call themselves "peach sisters."
It's not a club anyone tries to get into, but once you're in, there's no going back.
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