It was 2006 and I went into the doctor for a routine checkup. I asked the doctor to take a look at a lump I’d had on my neck for sometime but didn’t think much about because it seemed harmless. The doctor took a look and said it looked abnormal and sent me in for some tests. I felt a sense of uneasiness. In the back of my mind was fear. Some worst case scenarios ran through my thoughts for a moment before I dismissed them, choosing to tell myself it was nothing and all would be okay.
The biopsy that was done came back inconclusive. I was told, though, that the mass on my neck exceeded allowed tolerance and that it would need to be surgically removed. The surgery did not seem like a major deal, just an outpatient, half day surgery, which I proceeded to have done. After the surgery, the doctor told me it did not appear to be a dangerous mass, and all was expected to be alright, but that lab tests would need to be done and a follow-up appointment was scheduled.
A week or so later, I went into the doctor and was told that the tests had come back positive for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer of the blood and I was referred to an Oncologist. The doctor had said that dreaded word – cancer. Cancer was one of my biggest fears. I had had some relatives die from the disease, and my first thought was I had been given a death sentence.
I had just completed a great sales year at my company, exceeding my annual quota and winning a trip to Barcelona, Spain. Would I be able to go? Would I have a future at all? A chance at a family of my own?
The next year consisted of chemo treatments, radiation, and regular visits to see the specialist. I lost all my hair, felt weak and broken. I did continue working, but it was difficult to maintain the needed energy and concentration levels I had had the prior year.
I was told to maintain positive thoughts, that negativity could hinder my progress. As an ego-driven person at the time, this at first I found difficult, but I recognized that I needed a Higher Power to get me through. I read books from cancer survivors. I talked with others who had experienced similar or worse situations. I also developed a prayer and meditation routine through which I gained strength, guidance, and peace. Fear of death faded and faith began to grow.
At the end of my treatments, I was told I was cured. Lab results had returned to normal and fortunately, my disease was a form of cancer that was treatable with current medical methods. From the beginning of the treatments, I had a definite purpose to not only survive but to thrive despite this challenge and by the Grace of God and by my new found willingness and desire to look for the good in every experience, that purpose has been achieved.
I like to share this experience, and others, in the hopes that it will help someone else who may be facing similar adversity. In many cases, what were once my worst fears, once faced with courage and determination, have become the foundation by which a faith is built in God and myself which cannot ever be truly defeated. Everything is a learning experience so that I my be prepared to succeed in the next step of my journey.