11 Years Since Diagnosis: A Look Back

I am inhaling love and exhaling and gratitude. How can I not in this incredible setting? 

It's the 11-year anniversary of receiving that devastating diagnosis, “Laurie I am so sorry, you have pancreatic cancer.” Never once did I think, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” Nor have I considered myself a victim. I really just refused to believe I was sick. A healthy amount of denial allowed me to process my difficult journey, along with a belief that this was a blip on the screen, regardless of how dreadful I felt or how much I missed the old me. And believe me, I really missed the old me.

Of course there were times I felt hopeless and overwhelmed by the pain, with so many challenges that they seemed insurmountable. There was more vision at the bottom than at the top. I can’t tell you an exact recipe or therapy I used to make it to the next hour, let alone the next day. A treasured community of loving family and friends with never-ending support, my doctors and health care professionals, a gratitude journal, the beautiful view from my bedroom - all were instrumental in helping me overcome the shattering predictions that I would not survive. I had never been sick and don’t think I fully appreciated the flexibility, freedom and endless possibilities of living a rich, rewarding, active, stimulating life that I experienced for the past 55 years. I have a “sunny” brain and my glass has always been half full, but a serious challenge really puts this into play. A positive attitude, never allowing ourselves to give up; it is critical that we value the significance of this and never letting it escape us.  What is life asking of me? 

I have been told that certain darkness is needed to see the stars. In my deepest, darkest moments, I would not have appreciated this thought. What I do appreciate now is a belief I have always carried with me…the struggle you are in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.

I believe that FEAR can have two meanings.

  1. Forget everything and run, OR...
  2. Face everything and rise.

The choice is yours.

I am allowing myself to be happy, have a sense of wonder, do things I am good at, love the work I am doing, believe in myself, stay inspired, read, play games, pray, exercise, spend quality time with my family and friends, take risks, help others, face my fears and let my heart be my guide.

I intend to deny cancer any purchase on my life and to never stop smelling the flowers!

Laurie MacCaskill