I am fortunate to have family and friends check in on me since my jawbone replacement surgery. They always ask, “how are you doing?” Although I am grateful to be asked, I am always perplexed why people who know me question or doubt my response.
Recently, I had a great laugh over coffee with a dear friend, also a cancer survivor, about how our outlook is different than most. For many people, having jawbone replacement surgery could be a life-altering, devastating and heart-wrenching experience. However, for me, it’s absolutely not the case.
After you lose more than half of your tongue, much of the upper pallet on the roof of your mouth, and experience life after all things Head Neck Cancer my reality is very different than most. Friends and family have said, “what a nightmare”, “you must be miserable”, “how do you even get out of bed?”, “how do you manage?”, “you must be beside yourself”, and “what an awful time for you and your family.”
Yes, when my jawbone fractured, undergoing surgery, as well as being away from my family for three and a half weeks while in the hospital recovering was obviously not ideal and it was very painful. These three aspects were very difficult for me and my family.
Though what in the world can I complain about. First, I have the best six teams of surgeons in the world caring for me. People travel around the world for their help, and they are my personal dream team. What a gift!
Second, unlike many other people, I have my beloved husband, family, and friends’ support and unconditional love. Many people have to go through hardships without any support.
Third, I was fortunate to have two fantastic Physical Therapists who helped me learn how to walk, bend, balance, and jump back into life to physically be able to play with my children again!
Fourth, it is not a recurrence of cancer. When you have observed young children battle this disease as their parents hold them in their arms, as well as have lost beloved family and friends to cancer there is absolutely nothing to complain about.
Fifth, any pain I experience is manageable and I’m absolutely focused on what the future holds both personally and professionally.
Consequently, when I am asked, “How are you?” I respond, “I’m great thanks!” I GENUINELY mean it. I GENUINELY feel blessed and wonderful!!! Life is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated daily.