- A Strengthened Spousal Bond - My initial cancer diagnosis further cemented the bond between my, now, husband and myself. At the time I was diagnosed with cancer the first time we were in a long distance relationship making things work. We knew we were in love, however, realistically we hadn't worked any of the logistics out of actually making everything work. During my diagnosis and treatment he was such an amazing support. I knew if we made it through that experience we could make it through anything. Two more times with cancer and a wedding later, I still feel the same way. He is the love of my life and I couldn't ask for a better partner!
- Dedication to my Son - I don't know a single parent who wouldn't say he/she is dedicated to their child, however, a cancer diagnosis changes that dedication. I am now dedicated to making sure Wylee fully experiences life. I never wanted my cancer to impact him, I wanted his life to be "normal" as I write this I realize that was crazy to think. Of course my cancer is going to impact him. I just have to dedicate my time to ensure that the impact is a as positive experience as possible for Wylee. I try to do things with him which will leave a lasting impression. I try to make his gifts experiences, like Florida for his birthday last year. I take him to a cancer support group to help him to cope with and understand what is going on. I take time to do the little things with him that really matter, like a movie night even on a school night. I love my son and my cancer diagnosis has made my dedication even stronger and more purposeful.
- Relationships - Cancer can do interesting things to your relationships. Cancer will show you who your friends and family are and it can also add to your circle. Cancer has greatly added strong relationships to my circle. I found an ongoing friendship with many people, both those with and without cancer. I connected with so many of the 6 South nurses on the oncology floor of my hospital, found strength and support through Cervivor, have made several friends through an online Facebook support group: The Teal Ladies, met wonderful people through the Cancer Support Community here in Indianapolis, and many more people. We have found another "family" of support through my friend Cindy who I originally had scheduled to do boudoir pictures through her business Cindy Johnson Boudoir Photography for my wedding before I was diagnosed a second time. She has never missed a beat always being there for me and offering to help in anyway she can since then. It is amazing the relationships I have made through this cancer battle.
- Perspective - An ongoing cancer battle gives me perspective. Cancer has taught me to let go of so many small things. I find myself mentally weighing things differently in my mind. I reflect on my own mortality and I try to give the gift of experiences to my son, husband, family, and friends. Cancer has also given me perspective on how making decisions should be purposeful. Do I want to spend the day at home catching up on the DVR? That is fine! Do I want to go out kayaking and making memories? That is awesome too! Each day with cancer brings more perspective.
- Humor - Humor is one thing which has helped me cope with this cancer diagnosis. There is definitely the ongoing "cancer card" joke within my family and social circles. I totally recognize that humor is a coping mechanism which doesn't work for everyone, however, it works for me.
- Purpose - Cancer has added one specific purpose to my life: advocacy. I want to save other women from ever having this diagnosis and I want women to have had this diagnosis to never feel alone. I've began to utilize this blog to help me with my advocacy. You can look forward to a blog post each day of the month in January due to the fact that January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, or, #CCAM as you will see it tagged. I encourage each of you to share at least one post per week. Seeing the number of views I have on my blog we could share so much information if each of you just chose one post per week and shared it via social media.
Although cancer has given me these things, this isn't a path other women have to follow. I see friends dying of this terrible cancer, others having continuous treatment, and many dealing with the mental and physical aftermath of a cancer diagnosis. My unrealistic hope is that no one would ever have to go through this diagnosis. My realistic hope is that my story can impact enough people to save at least one person from having to deal with a cervical cancer diagnosis.