A few years ago, I started writing August updates to check in with you about my health. Two years ago, it was long overdue and last year, I shared my yearly schedule of follow-up appointments.
Many of you know I've had a roller coaster year. My colonoscopy last fall found three polyps and an inflammed colon, which led me to consider ileostomy surgery. But, I took my surgeon's advice (a second opinion) and held off. I focused on mind-body strategies like mindfulness, prayer, stress reduction, etc. At my 6-month follow-up colonoscopy in April, things looked much better!
In fact, they looked so much better, my colonoscopy schedule got moved back to once a year and I put surgery plans on pause for right now.
August Checks and Blood Draws
With a stable colon, this past week was full of other checks I do as a colon cancer survivor. Blood draws, urinalysis, pap smear - you know, the fun stuff. But honestly, it's stuff that feels routine - stuff I'd imagine most patients get whether they've faced cancer or not. That alone is a blessing I don't take lightly.
My doctor says I don't need a mammogram until I'm 40. We've discontinued CT scans because the risk doesn't outweigh the benefit since I don't have any areas of concern. I'll continue to do self-checks and report anything that feels "off," but right now - I am super healthy.
So far, the lab work from this week is coming back normal. Praise God!
I'm often super "thinky" after my yearly survivorship appointments, and even more so after this week. As I walked out the doors of the hospital, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Like - I felt it in my chest and it nearly stopped me on the street.
Life is short!
At one point in my life, I didn't walk out of hospital doors with the same good news, or even the energy that got me to the car. When I've been actively fighting cancer, I've known to not take life for granted. I've always seen that perspective as a gift. But do you know what's happened over the years? I've forgotten.
Life is short?
I've slid comfortably into routines that don't force me to remember life is short all of the time. I've totally taken life for granted and not lived in the awareness that tomorrow isn't guaranteed. I've felt stressed about silly stuff, entered petty disagreements with people I love and neglected to seize the day because I assumed there's another one coming.
Blessing in disguise
And while I could feel shame about this, I actually see it as a second gift. The ability to forget life is short after you've become fully aware it isn't - well, that's quite amazing. Talk about a blessing in disguise.
So that's where I am after this week of doctor's visits. Feeling good, working on staying that way, and giving myself space to both remember life is short and permission to forget.