I’ve always craved extraordinary experiences and through diligence and luck I’ve managed to pepper my life with them. I attended extraordinary schools, married an extraordinary man, gave birth to four extraordinary children, ghostwrote a few books (I won’t claim they’re extraordinary) while chasing those children, lived in extraordinary places, and traveled the world first in spurts, and later in one extraordinary fell swoop. Nothing has come close, however, to what I have been through the past seven months.
This time extraordinary found me…and I didn’t want it. I would have given anything to be ordinary, to be one of the 99.5% of women my age who do not end up with colon cancer, or the 99.99995% who do not have the even rarer appendiceal cancer (which was likely the origin of my disease). Accepting that cancer had found me, I would have loved to have fallen into the more common categories of Stage I, II or even III, but upon entering the emergency room, I had to settle for Stage IV; and as cancer activist Kris Carr explains, “there is no Stage V.”
So, faced with an extraordinary situation no one would ask for, I have had to confront life from a new and unfamiliar perspective. I have had to fight not to create magical experiences but to stay alive. I have had to face a diagnosis that statistically gives me little chance of long term survival and prove that I am anything but a statistic. I am a walking miracle, a deviation from the norm, a medical outlier.
I have emerged from chemotherapy as I entered it, thanks to my surgeons, “cancer free.” This is an extraordinary accomplishment given the voraciousness of my tumors. I have lost a lot along the way–my sense of medical invincibility, my unfamiliarity with personal trauma, an assortment of organs, my high frequency hearing, and some feeling in my hands and feet–but I have gained even more. I am alive, tougher, wiser, more grateful.
Words cannot express the gratitude Tom and I have for the scores of you who have sent messages of love, care packages, meals, and prayers our way. We firmly believe that each and every gesture of temporal and spiritual support has made a difference in my recovery and played a part in creating a hopeful future for our family.
We never imagined when we embarked on our round the world adventure almost five years ago that our greatest adventure would occur at home. Now that it has, we are even more grateful that we had the chutzpah to live out our dream of extended family travel and have every intention of fulfilling many more extraordinary dreams in the years to come.
Though we are optimistic, my fight is not over. I must work every day through diet, exercise, and stress management to make my body hostile to the cancer that so recently threatened to kill it. I must learn to live in the moment and appreciate what I can do today as opposed to what I could have done yesterday or what I might do tomorrow. None of this is easy. There are many times when this whole experience seems bigger than me, when I wonder how I can possibly make it through the next few months much less the next fifty years. But as with any great adventure, faith and a certain degree of fearlessness have sustained me thus far and I trust they will continue to do so in the future.
As I continue my recovery and regain my strength, I expect to be able to share more. For now please accept my sincere thanks for your love and encouragement. They truly have meant the world to me.