Me, after cancer

Miss Melanoma wrote recently on her blog about how she sometimes misses her pre-cancer self. She wishes she could go back, could let go of the pity that surrounds her at times, could feel free to think of nothing but having fun for a whole evening. It’s getting better, she writes. “I’m so happy I’m starting to see that ME that was here before melanoma. I really liked that girl. She’s finally coming back.”

Cancer has a way of changing a person. But while there are times when I think back to my former self with fond memories (if only I could have my straight hair back), I tend to like the post-cancer me better than the me who knew nothing of this vicious disease. Of course, it takes time to get past the darkness of diagnosis and the terror of treatment. Surviving takes some practice too. But when the fog clears and the dust settles, life can turn pretty darn bright.

Cancer was my wake-up call, my “watch out, your days may be numbered so make every day count” reminder that helps me focus on what is truly important. For me, it’s family and writing and anything that causes virtually no stress. Cancer makes me appreciate every sunny day, every cool breeze, every laugh that roars from the mouths of my little boys, every accomplished task. I’m not sure I fully comprehended the beauty of every moment before cancer. I do now.

I never really grasped the importance of health before cancer either. I now know cancer is likely caused more by lifestyle factors than anything else and so it has become my mission to eat right, exercise right, and fuel my body so that it outlasts any disease that tries to invade it. Today, my body is leaner than it’s ever been, my heart allows me to run distances I never could have previously conquered, and I wake each day with a spunk that is invigorating.

Cancer makes me want to be better, do better, live better. And this is what makes me happier to be the me after cancer than the me before cancer. It’s a personal preference, I guess. Some people long for days past. I long for days present and future. I thank cancer for that.