Valentine's Day 2023 was the 34th anniversary of the biopsy that confirmed my diagnosis with osteogenic sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. The anniversary reminds me of all I am grateful for--a wonderful marriage, great family and friends, a job I love. I am also reminded of my losses--the energy I must devote to managing chronic phantom limb pain and the onerous side effects of my pain medications, the surrender of my right leg after almost 20 years of limb-salvaging surgeries, the changes in my mobility as an above-knee amputee.
I never did get that happily ever after ending to my cancer story, so I'm exploring what it means to live steeped in ambiguity--the good, the bad, and the complicated. I have an open-ended illness story with no definitive ending -- I survived the cancer and live in a body that not only could not go back to the way it was before cacner, but in a body that continually forces me to adapt to new physical realities. I endeavor to do this with love and compassion for myself, my family and friends, my communities, and even with strangers. I am not alone in my long-term cancer survivorship; more than 14 million cancer survivors live in the U.S., and about three-fifths of us live with long lasting and late effects of cancer treatments.
I've written many new chapters since my initial cancer treatment, and I look forward to writing more realistic stories of survivorship.