I’m So Grateful, I Survived.

I never talk about cancer – wishing to put it far from me. However, this morning I found something I wrote while I was undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.

From statistics I’ve read, only 20% of ovarian cancer patients remain alive after five years. Maybe I should not be tempting fate here, but I am one of the lucky ones who has been in remission for eight years. I count my blessings every day and pray for those less fortunate.

My doctor tells me you NEVER recover from ovarian cancer but I have never believed everything that doctors tell me and I know I am RECOVERED. The mind has great power!

Despite not TALKING about it, the following words I share with you from when it was happening, and I was WRITING about it.

Title; SUNRISE, BEAUTIFUL SUNRISE.

Would daylight never come? I hate the nights. They drag on endlessly in dark silence.

I lie in the darkness, tossing about as I try not to scratch.

That infernal itch is not painful but it is unbearably miserable. It usually starts with red spots that grow into angry welts, two or three days after each chemo treatment.

I listen to the heavy silence, wondering if I am the only person in the whole world who is lying awake, disturbed by pain or thoughts of death. I have never felt so alone.

If I lived in the city, the noises might sound friendly, reminding me I am not alone. But the country is deathly still…

A sound outside my window briefly breaks the silence. I welcome it, wondering what kind of a night animal it might be, slinking through the tropical vegetation. I consider looking through the window but realize that would be pointless in the dark. Curiosity is killed as the ITCH imposes its presence upon me once more. It is the most pervasive thing in my life this minute. I have tried Calamine lotion and every type of creme and pill, to no avail.

Hours pass and I long for sleep. Exhausted, I wobble to the bathroom and fill the tub with hot water and foaming bath-oil. Sinking into its soothing depths, I find some relief as I run my hands over my hairless skin, feeling a silky oiliness on my fingers.

The itch remains but it is now tolerable. I no longer fight the urge to claw at my flesh. The stress ebbs away as I sigh with relief and rest my head back against a folded towel. Shadows from a night light comfort me as I drift into much needed sleep.

The cold water awakens me. Unhappy at the disturbance, I drain half the water out and refill the tub. I consider going back to my bed but I know the itch will only intensify if I leave the water. I’ve done this before. If I suffer for a week, I know I will then have a short period of respite until the next chemo session.

Throughout the long night I doze, I wake, I fill the tub. Sometimes I wonder if I might be so exhausted that I slip under the water and drown while sleeping. I don’t want to die. I still have one handicapped son to worry about. He needs me. It’s impossible to quell my anxiety about what will become of him when I’m gone.

I think about all the younger mothers who are suffering cancer. I think of their torment if they have young children. I close my eyes and say a prayer for these sisters I don’t know.

When the doctor first told me I had advanced ovarian cancer, I was understandably devastated and the dread was with me every moment. Surprisingly, after a couple of months, I calmed down and except for worrying for my son, found some unexpected peace. External things which had previously troubled me no longer mattered. Life took on a new perspective. And even though I wanted to survive, I stopped fearing death.

I drained more water from the tub and considered refilling it  but sensed the night was coming to an end. I had become adept at guessing exactly what time it was without looking at a clock. It now felt like 4 am. If I climbed out of the tub, dried myself and put on my robe, it would be almost dawn. I always loved the sunrise and I knew exactly from which vantage spot I would get the first glimmer of light.  Daylight banished the night terrors and sent my soul soaring.

Just as the sky turned pink, the kookaburras, those wonderful harbingers of day awoke. My ears rang with the sounds of their joyous laughter and I was no longer alone. I felt my spirit touch theirs and I wiped the mist of gratitude from my eyes.

Here was another perfect day – another day of life!

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rinellegrey
    Jun 03, 2013 @ 09:09:05

    A very emotional piece. Congratulations on beating those 5 years! I do believe you can beat cancer, though it takes a strong will!

    Reply

  2. Thomas Rydder
    Jun 03, 2013 @ 13:48:32

    Beautifully sad, Junie…your inner strength stands as an example to others who fear the unknown. Duly blogged, faced, pinned, digged, googled, linked, stumbled and tumbled 🙂

    Thomas

    Reply

  3. Trackback: My pal Junie Moon, with a beautiful post on holding your courage in the face of cancer… | Thomas Rydder
  4. Susan Joyce
    Jun 03, 2013 @ 22:31:06

    Dear Junie,
    I am so happy to know you and to know all about you—your struggles, your successes, your fears, and your dreams. Bless you for sharing all.
    Many thanks!
    Susan Joyce

    Reply

  5. Pamela D. Beverly
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 00:20:52

    Congratulations, Junie. This is a very touching piece. Here’s to many wonderful, chemo-free years. Take care!

    Reply

  6. rinellegrey
    Jun 08, 2013 @ 09:29:35

    Hi June. I’ve nominated you for the ‘I am part of the WordPress Family Award, so if you get a chance, come over and check it out.

    Reply

  7. June Collins
    Jun 08, 2013 @ 11:06:42

    Rinelle, I never enter these things myself as I just don’t seem to keep up on things. Thank you so much for entering me.

    Reply

  8. Joe Owens
    Jun 10, 2013 @ 12:50:45

    Yay for you June. I have had a very different experience with cancer as it has claimed three family members over the last two decades and I certainly celebrate anyone who can survive and thrive. I hope you continue to revel in your extra time and soon celebrate decades since that terrible time.

    Reply

  9. Trackback: Speaking of Gratitude – This is the place to share yours!

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