In the spring of 2008, I was 48 years old and going merrily along living life.
At an appointment with my GP, I mentioned a spot on my arm. She didn’t think it was anything to worry about, but referred me. Shortly afterwards I had a biopsy which came back positive for cancer cells. After surgery to remove a larger section, the doctors had discovered cancer cells had been found in the central lymph node — I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma. After yet another surgery to remove the lymph nodes from my right arm, I finally heard “We got it all! You’re clear.”
I was living with my cancer diagnosis and treatment for approximately 6 months. Initially we choose not to tell many people about my diagnosis. Why worry my family and friends, I thought, when we assumed it would be a simple procedure. We didn’t understand the full extent until the melanoma diagnosis. When I was secretly going to my doctors’ appointments, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. The hardest thing we had to do was tell our children the same weekend we travelled to PEI to tell my parents.
Life as a survivor
I am one of the very lucky ones. I have served as the Survivor Event Chair for the Canadian Cancer Society Relays for Life in Halifax and Bedford/Sackville. These events provided the opportunity to meet dozens and dozens of Survivors of all ages and from all walks of life.
Last spring, I visited the Daffodil Garden for Cancer Survivors for the first time. Seeing hundreds of daffodils blowing in the breeze, I was reminded how fortunate I am. Then there was the planting fest held last fall where my Sole Mates runners and myself helped plant thousands of bulbs so we can all be reminded of our good fortune and the promise those beautiful yellow blooms provide when they peek above the ground each spring.