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Terri Simon

Seven years ago

Thursday came and went without any fanfare. That was good. I like those smooth days — ones that come and go quietly without much ado. They soothe my soul and help on those other days that wreak of chaos and craziness.

But while the world and all the people in it where busy doing their own thing on Thursday, I was lost in the past — seven years ago to be exact — June 6, 2007.

So what’s so special about that day in history for me? It’s simple, yet oh so complicated. That was the day I turned over my life to Dr. Tracey Weigel at University of Wisconsin Medical Center in Madison, Wis. It was the day of the big surgery — the day I would learn from this very capable cardiothoracic surgeon the cancer she had treated me for during the past three months had died — allowing me to live. It was the day I woke up from a seven-plus hour surgery and heard there was no evidence of cancer in my body. It was the day my family and friends celebrated. It was the day I was able to start putting the words, “You have cancer,” behind me and begin the physical, mental, spiritual and psychological journey of healing from a terribly bumpy road I never want any of you to travel.

Whoa! Seven years! While it seems like a lifetime ago, it also seems like yesterday. I think about that day — that entire experience — every day of my life, forever changing who I am, who I was and who I will ultimately end up being. While that six-letter word is more like a four-letter word in my vocabulary, I am different now. I always wonder if there will come a place in time when June 6 will just be another day. I doubt it, but I hope so.

Funny how we remember those life-changing days with clarity. Quite frankly, today I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday, and don’t even think about asking me what I did last week or last month because I couldn’t tell you. But June 6, 2007? Yep, it strikes a chord — a melodious chord, yet one filled with a kaleidoscope of emotions which I’m not sure I’ll every completely sort out.

Many of you came along on that journey with me seven years ago. You sent cards, flowers, prayers ..., and I want you to know every now and then I go through all those cards, and I see your handwritten kindness. It still touches me — probably more so today than it did seven years ago, since I was pretty consumed with craziness back then. Today, I look at those cards, those well-wishes, those signatures, and I feel blessed to have been in so many of your thoughts and prayers.

So what’s my point? Why bring this up now? Why not leave the past in the past and move on?

I can’t speak for everyone who is or who has ever been a member of the “Big C Club,” but I can tell you this awful, horrible disease causes you to be one of two things ... You can either be a victim of cancer or a survivor of cancer. It’s your choice, and it’s all about your perspective. it has nothing to do with beating or battling the disease. It has everything to do with your mindset. I choose to be a survivor.

Which leads me back to you. When I think back seven years ago and the emotions that plagued my life back then, it’s overwhelming. Truly. It was a time when my thoughts and worries were running rampant, but thanks to so many of you, I am able to associate those crazy moments with a plethora of warm thoughts from many of you. They were cards and notes where you shared so much. Tears fill my eyes today when I reread your kind and heartfelt wishes — wishes that helped me be a survivor, rather than a victim.

So to each and everyone of you, please know your kindness seven years ago still stirs my soul. And not only that, I’ve tried to follow your example, letting people in dire situations know they are in my thoughts and prayers. I will be forever grateful.

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