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Terri Simon

Marking time

It was a day I had been waiting for ... and to be quite honest, I didn’t think it would ever come. I don’t mind telling you I’m sharing this long-awaited discovery in hopes it offers others the same sense of peace it gave me.

Most of you know I heard the word “cancer” uttered from my doctor’s mouth. The actual words I remember were “cancer, serious and malignant.” I remember walking out of that doctor’s office more of a woman than I had walked in.

Those three words carved a hole in my soul, never to be forgotten. Never. It’s difficult to believe I first heard those words seven years ago, and like other cancer survivors, those words have continued to haunt me on a daily basis. They come and go, but they never leave. In fact, they resurface several times a day — usually without warning, and I’m left to decipher and attempt to deal with them.

Once you hear the word cancer — and I’ve said this before, your world changes forever. Nothing is the same again, and life is different. If a cancer survivor/patient tells you otherwise, I need to learn their secret because the words, the worry, the unknown will forever etch themselves in your mind, your heart, your soul, your dreams and your waking moments.

That’s right. You remember the day you first heard the word. The exact date, the exact time. You remember the number of chemotherapy treatments you had, and you remember how many radiation treatments you underwent. You never forget the exact day of your surgery. You don’t forget all the days you went back for check-ups, hopeful everything was OK. You rehash, remember and recall. It’s just part of it.

Much to my dismay, I’ve resigned myself to those facts. I will always carry around the emotions, the worries, the trepidation and everything else that goes along with that diagnosis. Whether the cancer is gone or not, one still lives with the word and everything that accompanies it. It’s just that simple. It’s just that convoluted.

And so it was the other night ... The clock was nearing midnight, and as I laid awake in my bed ... the darkness swirling around me ... my mind was busy preparing for the next day and what needed to be accomplished. I spend a lot of time with my thoughts on those late nights — not that I accomplish a lot, but I attempt to sort out a variety of situations, issues, ideas, etc. In my crazy world, it’s a peaceful time I cherish more than most will ever know.

And then it hit me. Wow! My eyes popped open like a child startled by a loud noise in the middle of the night, however, this “noise” was something I hadn’t planned on hearing — or should I say not hearing. You see, it was the late evening hours of March 5 — the day I first heard the word “cancer” associated with my own body seven years ago. As the clock neared midnight, I realized that fateful day in my own personal history had nearly passed me by without even the slightest remembrance.

As a matter of fact, as I contemplated my late-night discovery, I realized I hadn’t thought about the cancer for quite a few days. What? How did that happen? How did I forget such a horrifying and awful experience? What changed? Why did I miss that all important anniversary date? Why hadn’t the thought of cancer crossed my mind for a while?

I guess my point to all of this is that old saying that, “Time heals all wounds,” might just literally be right. There was a point in my life when the word “cancer” plagued my world, and now, I’m happy to report that while I still think about it a lot, time has allowed me to forget now and then. That’s a pleasant discovery, and if you’ve walked in my shoes, I know you understand.

Time ... from both perspectives ... well, I guess that’s what it’s all about, my friends.

Tonica News Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@tonicanews.com.