There are a few moments that people say you will never forget. For anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer, that moment is at the top of the list. All of the sudden, like a ton of bricks, the world stops moving. Life before your diagnosis feels light years away, as words like "oncologist" and "chemo" become a part of everyday conversation. You start to take it day by day, appointment by appointment, but you can't help but wonder if you will ever be able to say the words, "I had cancer."
I refer to that time in my life as 'the emotional quicksand.' I was in the prime of my life - a 30-something in NYC, the co-founder of my own company and at the height of my career, when all of the sudden after just taking one step, I was sucked into the world of cancer. I was pushed into making decisions about my health without really understanding what all of my options were, due to the pressure of wanting to get the cancer out ASAP. Somehow, it was as if the life I knew before cancer completely stopped, while this whole other world was moving far too fast for me to catch up. I had no control over what was happening and I couldn't find solid ground to just stop and stand on. Quicksand.
Luckily, there was one thing that pulled me out of this quicksand: my angel, a woman who I meet at a doctors' appointment who had the exact same type of cancer that I was just about to begin treatment for. She told me about options that I wasn't aware of, gave me advice on fear management and relationships, and provided me the gift of envisioning a life after my diagnosis. Here she was, having just beaten what I was just about to begin and she had the control over her health that I was seeking. As I recently said in one of my blog posts, her advice allowed me to picture a life after cancer and if you've been in my shoes, you know how great of a gift that is.
I'm seven years cancer free now, and I see that quicksand period with so much more clarity. I can see myself now, standing on solid ground next to myself then, knowing how to find that sense of control that I was seeking: by connecting with others like me...people who really understood what I was going through. Building IHadCancer.com has allowed me to be an angel for countless others, and now I want to take it a step further by really starting the conversation about life after diagnosis, so that the next person can fell more prepared for what's to come.
That's why my team at IHadCancer is launching #LifeAfterDaignosis, an opportunity for anyone who has been affected by cancer to share the story of the days that have come and gone since your diagnosis. What have you learned? What is that you wish you knew when this started? What has surprised you? This is your opportunity to pass it on to someone who is in the shoes that you never want to be in again: at the start of the cancer journey.
All that we ask is that you are honest about what you are feeling. It's not all going to be pretty. For many people, life after cancer is sometimes harder than life during cancer. But that's worth talking about, and we want you to do that - that is what we are here for. We know that plenty of people will never be able to say "I Had Cancer," they will live with cancer forever as a chronic illness. That is why we are talking about life after diagnosis, not life after cancer, because those stories need to be shared as well. So whether it's been 1 day since your diagnosis, or 10,000 days, please tell us about your life since that moment - the good, the bad and everything in between.
For me, it's been nearly 3,000 days since I've been diagnosed, but I still really need my cancer community. I need to talk about what I went through seven years ago and what I am continuing to go through today. It's a beautiful thing to know that I can... and that you want to listen.
How to share your #LifeAfterDiagnosis story:
Step 1: Calculate the number of days since your diagnosis.
Step 2: Decide what you want the world to know about the days that have passed.
Step 3: Write it all down and take a photo of it.
Step 4: Post to Facebook, Instagram or twitter using #LifeAfterDiagnosis and #IHadCancer
Step 5: Tag your cancer friends.
What is your #LifeAfterDiagnosis story? Share it in the comments below, on social media, or at www.ihadcancer.com.