My big wish is that I could help others acquire some of the insights I acquired from my cancer experience. By trying to live each day to its fullest, I hope that I set a good example for others to follow.
I go back to the 5 laws of life which I believe in:
1. This too shall pass. Nothing stays the same. The only constant in life is change. In my state of cancer, I know that because life goes on, change will bring me some kind of relief. And because even comfort, happiness, and all good things also pass, we know that we need to appreciate and cherish each precious, fleeting moment.
2. Time heals. The timepiece of life never stops. Neither does it pause for those who celebrate, speed up for those who are impatient, nor slow down for those who fear tomorrow. Time ticks a regular rhythm that steadily brings new moments, new days, and new seasons. As time pushes forward, we take new steps, face new challenges, and create new opportunities. And as life goes on, we are forced to move past our episodes of disappointment, sorrow, or despair. More than anything else, time heals not just broken bones but broken hearts as well.
3. Ask and you shall receive. People won't know what you want unless you ask for it. Dreams and goals are just wishes until you act on them, and acting on them often requires that you ask for answers, for assistance, or for something tangible. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help, but when you come forward, only then will the world know what to give you. Just ask and know that miracles can happen.
4. You can have anything, but not everything. Life offers us infinite possibilities. With hard work, determination, and perserverance, we can achieve anything. If we are willing to pay the price and go the extra mile, we can have whatever our hearts desire. But no matter how hard we try, we can't have everything. Life is a balancing act of wins, losses and trade-offs...we gain some and we lose some.
5. What goes around comes around. It's the universal law of nature: Do to others what you want others to do to you, because whatever you sow, you reap; whatever you give, you get back ten-fold. It doesn't hurt to smile or be kind, or extend a helping hand. You never know when or how, but every act of goodness always returns to the giver. Give one today and receive ten tomorrow.
I look back on a prayer upon my diagnosis and it goes:
"Lord, I have just received the diagnosis of breast cancer.
Still my anxious heart as I seek to understand why.
Teach me to transform
My suffering into growth,
My great fear of tomorrow into faith in your presence,
My tears into understanding,
My discouragement into courage,
My anger into forgiveness,
My experience with cancer into my testimony,
My crisis into a platform on which I can learn to
God grant that one day I can embrace this time as my friend, and not as enemy."
At the end of the day - we reflect- "It's not the duration of our life but the donation of our life."
"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." As we celebrate "Pink October"- the breast cancer awareness month, I appeal to all to see their doctor today because...
"Early detection saves lives...
Early detection saves money..."
From our little Visayan corner to the global community...
I am a medical survivor having had an appendectomy, a hysterectomy and just 3 years ago a lumpectomy. Yes, I had cancer and I went through all the cancer protocol- chemotherapy and radiation therapy. You may find me losing my train of thoughts. That's OK. I blame it on my chemo brain, so please allow me to write my thoughts.
My bout with breast cancer began in September of 2004 and here are some thoughts I want to share: September 2 to be exact, I felt the lump. On the same day, I had a mammogram, an ultrasound and fine needle biopsy- all results confirmed- I had cancer.
Human as we are respect, your emotions. I went through a roller coaster of emotions starting with fear, anger, denial grief, and anxiety. Cancer has always been a sigma: In fact, others perceive it to be a death sentence. When you discover you have cancer, one thing you have no choice... You do have a choice!!! You can prepare to die or you can prepare to live. I chose to live...so, my 1st thought- It's not all about positive thinking, it's about positive living.
My second thought:
Cancer is an unforgiving and relentless beast. The surgery and chemotherapy are not easy to bear physically and can generate large anxiety. Except for the hair fall, I did not have those stormy effects- Thank God and my battalion of prayer warriors, it helps when survivors can take you to the treatment progression. One of my "breast" friend underwent the treatment a fre month before I did. She spoke to me at intervals, not dousing me with too much at the start, But telling me what I needed to know at each stage. Honest previews can make the experience less intimidating. And the support and encouragement of my family and friends lifted my spirits. I received many letters, emails and SMS within and across the country.
My third thought:
Laughter is the best medicine. I kept my humor about my cancer-the clinic visits, the hospital stays, the blood tests, the loss of hair, etc.- and why not? Even dying isn't worth getting upset about. That's my secret!!! Cancer is a bumpy journey and humor helps to smooth the roads. If you're nuts, the cancer won't take you seriously and it'll leave you alone. There isn't and certainly will never be anything funny about cancer. What is funny is life-it has always been. Life is a wondrous comedy. Just as there was humor in life before cancer. There can be humor in life during cancer.
Fourth in my list:
Medical science has made enormous progress. The word "chemotherapy" was dreaded as the disease. But now, part of the treatment seemed to me more art than science. If we have designer clothes, don't be surprised to know that there are designer chemo drugs as well! You have to be fully informed before you can decide on treatment, I would tell myself-I am in charge of my cancer and not the other way round though I trusted my doctors: my OBGYN- Dr. Peachy Coronel, my surgeon- Cris Dy and my oncologist Dr. Dennis Tudtud.
I used cancer not as a noun but as a verb- cancering. During my chemo, losing my hair for the first days was so depressing. I snapped out of it and had my hair shaven off. I'd wear a wig, a bandana or sometimes just look like "bamboo". Again I told myself, since this was just a phase, make the best out of it- I came out with my kikay masks and wore outrageous chandelier earrings. I wore matching clothes with my bandanas and masks... In short, I made a fashion statement.
My fifth thought:
The human spirit can be the greatest weapon ever created against any life-threatening illness. It is greater than all the medicine, all the scientific advances ever developed and if you lose that spirit, then the battle is over. I believe your mindset is likewise critical to success. Early on, I decided I wasn't going to be afraid of dying, but I wasn't going to die today either. I commited to doing whatever it took o get the best information and the best care I could. That's what I'd tell others facing the big C as well-use your energies to fight cancer instead becoming emotional and feeling depressed. Remember, your loved ones should be affected too. It is selfish of you to think that you are victim, your loved ones are victim as well.
My sixth thought:
During this ordeal, the first insight that came to me was the truth in the statement that God doesn't give you anything that you cannot handle. I realized that God somehow saw me and my family as strong enough to face this diagnosis. When I saw strength, I mean spiritual strength. Spiritual strength seems to come in many forms, and for me, it is surrendering...not giving up, but surrendering.
Surrendering with innocent acceptance is important when facing the incomprehensible. We are all eager to sit in the driver's seat. But there are times we must sit in the passenger seat and simply enjoy the view. Everyday is an opportunity to let go and allow the grace of God to work in our lives. Believe in miracles!!! A miracle happened to me on the operation table- what was initially diagnosed as stage 3 became stage 2A; a mastectomy became a lumpectomy.
My seventh thought:
There is nothing like a cancer bout to make one relish the joys of being alive. Each thing I do comes with heightened appreciation that I am able to do it. While undergoing treatment, I realized how much I had taken for granted, and I gained a newfound appreciation for the simple things in life. I value my relationships with family and friends more than I did before. I live more in the present and worry less about the future although knowing what I have has made me prepare for the future. I have more respect and tolerance for individual feelings and beliefs that may differ from mine. I feel that my cancer experience has has instilled a "patient passion" in me. Now I view life as the exciting adventure as it is and have more patience to deal with obstacles and setbacks I survived 4 years...I have 1 more year to go to pass the 5 years critical period.
Me'anne with husband Tito Solomon and children
Me'anne sporting short hair
Without the bandanna--with friends-- from left clockwise- Leny Rafols Durano, Ginging Jabines, Jingle Benitez Polotan & Marirose Trias Roque
Me-anne with cancer survivors--Filomena Ngo Sy and Micheline Kierulf-Farrarons