It's been 10 years since I was diagnosed with Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma... cancer. I started this blog to share the many emotions, fears, experiences and, hopefully, triumphs that I will face throughout this journey. I have two goals for this blog, 1. To gain some degree of personal therapeutic benefit and, 2. To help others who may one day face a similar struggle by detailing the process of diagnosis, treatment and recovery so that they may know what to expect.

Friday, October 07, 2011

5 Years

October 5, 2011 - So today represents a rather important milestone in my life.  It is the 5 year anniversary since my last treatment for cancer.  I celebrated by seeing Dr. Tonnessen for what should be the last time, at least in a clinical setting.  He gave me the normal once over, said that everything looked great and officially declared me cured, at least to the extent that any doctor would make such a definitive statement. 

We spent the rest of the time just talking about what has transpired over these past five years and I thanked him for not only believing that I could be cured but for making ME believe that I could be cured because without that faith, I don't think it would have happened. 

I've spent the better part of the past few hours reading this blog from the beginning.  It's been a long time since I've looked at it and even longer since I've posted.  I've mentioned this before but there comes a time in this process when you just want to put it behind you and move on.  Slowly but surely,  mundane routine takes over once again and you no longer want cancer to be the underlying theme of life.  It's somewhat hard for me to believe that I was once that person.  Although it's familiar, I have trouble recognizing the voice.

So now I don't really know how I'm supposed to feel.  Closure?  Not really.  Relief?  Sure but I somehow was hoping for more.  Gratitude?  Undoubtedly.  I'm thankful for the amazing care I received from my doctors, Tonnessen, Califano, Dar and Hermansen.  I'm thankful for all of the love and support I've received from friends, family and total strangers.  I'm thankful for the good people at Tomotherapy who developed the technology that not only helped save my life but my quality of life.  Mostly I'm thankful for my little boy (who's not so little any more!) for giving me the motivation I needed to beat this disease.  A most sincere thank you to all. 

This seems like an appropriate point to end this blog.  It's time to finally close this chapter of my life and move on.  I hope someone has found something of value in these pages.  Whether it be advice on treatment options, insight on what to expect, someone to commiserate with or most importantly, FAITH that they can beat this disease, whatever you may take from this, I hope I've been able to help.  For anyone just starting this journey, the best advice that I can give you is to own the process.  Don't be a passive participant but an active decision maker.  If you don't like a doctor or what they might be telling you, go find another one.  Educate yourself. Ask questions.  Challenge.  Do not be intimidated.  The more you control the situation the less you will be controlled by it.  Most importantly, there IS life after cancer.  You can beat this disease and I'm living proof of that.  Find the thing that gives you the greatest will to live and stay focused on it.

Here's to good health.