I am sitting at the travel clinic hoping the soreness of my arms from my Thailand immunizations subsides before I have to drive. As I wait to make sure I have no allergic reaction, I ponder the fact that this is the only day I could get an appointment. This day is exactly 7 years from my last chemo treatment. This day is the day I heard the words cancer-free for the first time. This day is Michelle’s Alive Day. Coincidence? I think not. When I scheduled this appointment I did not connect the significance of the date, but this morning as a nurse put numerous needles in my arms, it came to me. Maybe it was the needle pain. Whenever I have to have something done to me that I hate, especially if it involves needles, I have a game I play in my head. It is the ‘this-is-nothing-compared-to-cancer-treatment’ game. I tell myself I can do ANYTHING for a couple of seconds and that nothing is as bad as some of the stuff I had to endure when I was sick. I have found this to be a very effective method of getting through medical procedures, surgeries, and tests of all kinds.
I guess another possible reason that I made the date connection is because whenever I have to go over my medical history, nurses always comment on the miracle that I discovered my cancers (ovarian and uterine) early. This usually leads to a conversation about my story and about the new perspective you get when you survive. The nurse I had today lost her mom to ovarian cancer, so the she was a bit awed that I made it through. She has seen what this particular cancer does up close. Her attention to detail regarding my health in getting shots was heightened considerably because she knew my story and I knew hers. Once your immune system has been compromised, all things medical draw attention to that fact. Questions abound. Making sure we get everything ‘right’ becomes of utmost importance. But in the midst of checking and double checking my stats, we had the opportunity to chat…about her mom…about my trip…about living fully. I told her that going to Thailand is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and though I have no idea how I am going to pay for it all I am determined to go for it and live fully. It is, after all, my life’s motto.
Seven years ago I was sitting in a chemo chair being pumped full of poison for the last time. The disease demanded that I sit in that chair. I was at my weakest point. I was bald, and it was cold. I piled up the blankets to take the chill off, but it was an internal chill…like when your body is trying so hard to process that it can’t regulate temperature and do its work too. I had a stuffed animal scarf around my neck. It was the last-day-of-chemo scarf that everyone in the room covets. Weak as I was, it was still a joyous occasion to walk out of that room never to return.
Today I volunteered to sit in a chair in order to get shots so I can fly half way around the world. Today I was not fighting for my life; I was choosing to live it. It is my seven-year anniversary, I am stepping out. I am conscious of the symbolism God provided for me in my appointment date. I am aware that he speaks in the seemingly trivial little details of life if I take the time to pay attention. He confirms my attempts to live fully with the extra time he provided me, and because I never know when my borrowed time will be up, I take every opportunity he puts in front of me. It is a day of celebration for me…even if my arms are sore.