Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dianne Garrett: Journal entry. National Cancer Awareness Month.

This is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. I like to call it "National Cancer Awareness Month". During "East Side News Round-Up" on October 15, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jowanda Thomas. She shared her touching story and experience with cancer four years ago, and I found a new friend in Jowanda. You see, I am also a cancer survivor.

My heart breaks for those who have had to endure so much suffering in order to survive, as well as those who did not. I don't know one person who has not been touched by cancer, whether it be themselves, a relative or a friend. I know that I have lost way too many loved ones.

On December 6, 2005 I was diagnosed with uterine cancer, just three days after my birthday. It was found on a routine, yearly check up. Hearing the doctor utter those three little words, "You have cancer", sounded to me like an exploding house falling on my head.
So many things raced through my mind, like, "I'm going to die", "How will I get through this", and I started making a mental note of all the things I wanted to do, and people I wanted to see before I died. My life seemed to suddenly be spinning out of control.

I had my first appointment with my oncologist on December 13. Here was a complete stranger who was going to hold my life in his hands. I'm a spiritual person, and began praying harder than I had in a long time. The doctor assured me that he was 99.99% sure that surgery would take care of it, since it was caught early. And, chemotherapy and radiation would probably never be necessary, but there was no guarantee. So he scheduled my surgery for January 19, and sent me home to enjoy my holidays, and prepare myself mentally for my journey. As he held my hand in both of his, he said that if he thought I needed to be admitted sooner, he would have sent me straight to the hospital that day. Those words gave me some calmness, and like Jowanda, I left the rest up to God. I called upon my faith, and remembered how many storms He had brought me safely through.

I called, emailed and told everyone I could, asking for their prayers and positive energy. My church family gave unbelievable support to my husband and me. I know of three other churches in Whitehall alone who had their congregations praying for me. I knew I had this horrible monster inside of me, and I also knew I wanted it OUT. But with all the positive energy I felt coming my way, I had this amazing peace right up until they rolled me into the operating room.

My doc was right. Surgery took care of it. I go see my docs every six months. Soon I will be three years cancer free. After my recuperation, I learned to say "no" more often so I can spend more time with family and friends, as well as doing nice things for myself. Like Jowanda, I tell everyone I know how important it is to have those yearly check ups, as well as self exams. It's only a small amount of time out of your life each year.

After cancer I see things more vividly. Sometimes it as if colors are brighter, laughter is louder and the smallest happy moments seem monumental. Instead of taking away from my life, cancer gave me insight INTO my life. It just gets better every day! It's amazing from where we receive our lessons and gain strength.

Dianne Garrett, Whitehall, Ohio

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Design is copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio Foundation. Text is copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Dianne Garrett.

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