I have a second brain MRI today, and I am a bit nervous about learning the results. Well, I need to know what is going on, I need to make decisions, I need to move on. I want this damn tumor out of my head. It’s benign. That is what gets me over the anxiety.
As I walked with my dog Sunday, I thought about my breast cancer diagnosis and how my life changed after that. What was important no longer took center stage. What was not as important was front and center. My priorities changed as I realized how much of life I was missing because I forgot about the simple things.
So, after my treatment 21 years ago, I became an advocate, got involved in breast cancer groups, was on the board of directors for Expedition Inspiration Fund, even went to a cancer science class so that I could lobby in Washington D.C. for cancer research dollars. I told friends back then that breast cancer did not intimidate me, but rather it inspired me.
On my Sunday walk, I thought about whether or not life a threatening illness or rare diagnosis can define a person. It’s all you think about, all you worry about, all you research, all you talk about. Then, you have surgery, you go through treatment or therapy, and years down the road you are not so preoccupied.
For me, becoming an advocate gave me the inspiration to do something about breast cancer. Becoming an advocate gave me purpose to focus on non-profits whose mission was only research in the hopes of finding a cure. We are still not at the cure point, but we sure are on the road to know a great deal more genetically about cancer. That is a very big deal in just 20 years.
I now have an acoustic neuroma, technically called a vestibular schwannoma. It’s in my inner ear canal behind the facial nerve and cochlear nerve. I can’t even describe how I felt when I saw it for the first time 6 months ago, on the big screen at the neurosurgeon’s office. I looked huge even though it’s probably the size of a walnut.
You know what? This is a benign tumor. It’s not cancer. This type of surgery has been refined by technology. And, I am not going to let this diagnosis define me. It is what it is. It’s brain surgery, and the best of the best are right here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s not cancer.
What will I do? I’m going to become a new advocate for acoustic neuromas. With the right attitude, healing is just around the corner. If you know me, you know I am a positive person. It’s how I live and how I will get through this. Most importantly, my attitude is how I heal in every life challenge that knocks on my door. Hello!
#acousticneuroma #advocacy #lifelesson #positiveattitude