10 Year Cancerversary – They Call me a Survivor #MondayBlog

Today is a very special day for me. Ten years ago I had my first breast cancer surgery. There were more, but it was my first.

I am presently cancer free.

Why did I get cancer? Why did I get to survive? I don’t know the answer to these questions, and even though I’ve spent hours contemplating them, I know I never will.

What I can tell you is that I am grateful for these ten years and intend to never take being alive for granted again.

Facing death does that to you.

The ten year milestone is significant. They say that after ten years any cancer you get is not related to the first cancer. I am finally out of the shadow of the big C. I am so lucky.

So on this milestone day, I’d like to thank all the doctors and nurses who treated me with gentle care and dignity, as if I were the only person to ever have the disease. I’d like to thank the researchers who continue to look for answers. All these people are saints in my book.

But I especially want to thank my husband and daughters who stood by me through it all and my friends and siblings who cheered me on. And I thank God.

In honor of this occasion I’ll share with you the first entry in my cancer journal, Dancing in the Jaws of the Dragon.

“I’m afraid it’s not the news you wanted to hear,” said the surgeon over the phone. He paused, “You have breast cancer.” He didn’t actually say the word, “cancer.” He used precise medical terms, but no Latin word endings could soften the impact of what he was saying. My brain registered: I have cancer … I could die. I gave my husband the thumbs down sign and struggled to follow the details from the pathology report being explained to me. It was hard to breath. The doctor stopped talking, and I heard myself say that I would come into his office the next  day and that, yes, I would bring someone with me. It was maybe a three-minute call, but time stopped for me that night. I had been dealt the “Cancer card,” and my life would never be the same.

My grown daughters had been anxiously waiting for six days for news about my pathology report, and now I had to tell them that it wasn’t good. I didn’t want to disrupt their happy, young lives. But I had no choice. Life was not giving me, or any of us a choice. I knew that cancer doesn’t affect one person in a family. It affects everyone in a family. You board the cancer roller coaster together not knowing where it will take you and you hang on. I held on to the hope that we would get through this, whatever “this ” turned out to be, together. I phoned. They were supportive, loving and  … hurt.

That night was long, unbelievably long. Time does that. It stretches with fear and worry. In the darkness of my bedroom I was tormented by an overwhelming sense of helplessness and crippling fear. I tossed and turned, and tossed again. I had maybe two hours sleep by sunrise. I tried deep breathing, meditation and mentally kicking myself in the butt, techniques that usually worked for me, but nothing worked that night. I couldn’t relax. The “what-ifs” would not let me go. I’m someone who likes to feel in control. Cancer stripped me of that comfort, and I felt more bare-naked than I had ever felt in my entire life. I felt like I’d been tossed into the wind with no idea of where I would land, like a dandelion seed in a storm. I thought the night would never end, but it did.

A week later I had my first breast removed. Later I would lose the second and have reconstructive surgery. They call me a survivor, but I don’t feel brave, or noteworthy. I feel extremely fortunate.

There’s no moral to this story. It’s just a slice of my life.

In the last ten years I retired, reunited with my brother, traveled to Europe, which was something I had dreamed of doing all my life, and best of all, have been blessed with five (perfect) grandchildren.

I think it’s important to not let a disease or misfortune claim me, or define me in any way. I don’t want to be known as a survivor, or one who endured “whatever”, because let’s face it, we all struggle in life. I’m not different from anyone else. We are all survivors.

But still, today, for me is sacred.


Cat Picture – Pixabay

Meme created on Canva 



Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

20 thoughts on “10 Year Cancerversary – They Call me a Survivor #MondayBlog”

  1. Congratulations, Jo-Ann on being cancer free and making this 10 year milestone.

    I believe as Judy said above that the world is a better place because you are in it. I see it. Anyone who knows you sees it.

    So celebrate, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m struggling for something witty to say and all I can come up with is, “Thank goodness.” It seems that everyone knows someone that has fought cancer and there are more survivors every year. Doesn’t make it any easier though. Yay for ten years.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so thankful that you made it through all the mental anguish as well as the struggle to heal over the past ten years. But most of all I’m thankful to be part of your world. As Jacqui said, you are an inspiration. Celebrate with your loved ones, big and little.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on this magnificent milestone. Your journal is so wonderfully evocative and beautifully written. I hope you will share more one day.
    Love always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ellie,
      It’s quite the journey isn’t it. I hope that you celebrate your day too.
      It feels like a huge weight has been lifted. Even though I know it didn’t suddenly happen on that day, it felt like it did.
      And remember all those stats the oncologist would site, which all ended with, “and if you do this your chance of survival in ten years will be that.” It’s so wonderful to distance myself from that.
      Chilling memories, but still, ones that made me who I am. I think the cat picture fits how I feel inside. lol.
      Anyway, all the best,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Jo-Ann, Thanks for commenting on my first blog. It was just something to start things off… I was touched by your story. I hope it will be mine in a few years’ time. I hope to use my blog to record my 2nd breast cancer “journey” and in reading the words you wrote at the time of your diagnosis, I thought “wow, how descriptive and creative this lady is even after hearing such devastating news”. You are correct in saying that this sort of experience changes your perspective on life, as it should! I learned to love my life more and not take it for granted. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi,
      I kept a journal through my first cancer experience and I started my first blog: Ooops, I’m Still Here. Being part of the cancer blogging world helped me a lot. People there understand what you’re going through and I learned a lot. As I healed I wanted to write about other things.
      Hang in there. Sending you my love and best wishes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s