Cancer Can't Stop My Body From Doing Some Pretty Amazing Things
It’s been nearly three years since I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and what I’ve realized in that time is our bodies — my body — is capable of some pretty amazing things. This body had the very important job of growing, nurturing and giving birth to each of our three incredible kids (within three years from the first one to the last), and I thought this would be its biggest accomplishment.
Since my cancer diagnosis, this body — a body that laid in a hospital bed for two weeks recovering from severe anemia, excruciatingly high calcium levels and pneumonia, two rounds of dialysis and ultimately was diagnosed with this incurable blood cancer — has come a long way.
It has endured high-dose chemotherapy that dropped my white blood cell counts to nothing and robbed me of all of my hair.
It has spent many days in bed or on the couch building its strength back.
It has bounced back by so many leaps and bounds that even some days I am awed by it (though, if I’m being honest, I know I would have accepted nothing less).
Women seem to spend an incredible amount of time thinking (perhaps “obsessing” is a more appropriate word) over our bodies. Is it skinny enough? Is our stomach flat enough? Are our butts too big or too small? How do I look in a bathing suit?
We put a ridiculous amount of pressure on ourselves to fit an ideal that, for many, is unachievable. We often focus too much on how we look and not how we feel. These days I’m (slightly) less concerned with the size of my body than I am with how strong my body is.
How well poised it is to fight this beast.
That’s not to say I don’t wish my body was different — that it was “better” in whatever way better is defined by me or others. There are many days now I am really pissed at my body.
I know I probably haven’t revered it as well — or consistently — as I should in my 45 years. And there have been many days I’ve gotten really angry at my body for letting me down, for being disloyal to me. For contracting this disease — god knows how — and making me fight this battle.
Each time I get blood drawn monthly to test my cancer markers, I think this blood, my blood, has betrayed me. And while all of this is true, it is also true that this body is fighting hard — really damn hard — to kick this cancer’s ass.
It sounds so cliche to say we all must love our bodies. We must take care of them and cherish them and expect amazing things from them. It is cliche to say you should love your body because it is the only body you will ever be graced to have. But there are reasons why things are cliche; it’s because there is truth there.
Our worth isn’t determined by the size of our bodies. Our value comes from the strength of our bodies and how capable they are of fighting, if or when, they ever need to.
I’m a girl who loves ice cream (and pretty much anything chocolate). I am in no position to preach about not treating ourselves and I believe, especially now, that life is too short to deny ourselves things that make us happy. We just need to choose those behaviors that will kept our bodies happy… and healthy.
And we know what those behaviors are. We each need to love, appreciate, respect, thank and nurture our bodies — they are the only ones we get.
I used to believe the best thing my body had ever done — would ever really be called on to do — was to give life to our children. What I took for granted was the life I needed it to preserve for me.
On those days when I’m feeling angry at my body for getting us into this mess in the first place, I aim to remember it is working pretty damn hard to get us out. And for that, I am grateful.
A version of this post was originally published on (Multiple Myeloma) Mom.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Thinkstock photo by kieferpix