When you?re told you have cancer, life changes

Editor?s note: With this issue we welcome Michele Longa?baugh, a friend of the Free Press, as a new columnist for our Health & Fitness Focus.

?You have cancer.? When people hear those words for the first time they are flooded with many emotions?fear, anger, sadness, guilt, sorrow and shock, just to name a few.

What I have become conscious of since that proclamation was given to me is that it is so much more than just raw and very real emotions. I have been permanently changed, as has every other soul, by those words.

It?s not the modification of an attitude or a habit. It goes so much deeper than that. It results in a permanent transformation in life perspective. Some don?t, perhaps, outwardly project the conversion, but if you talk to them about the day they received the news, they will confirm that it occurred within them?an alteration that only another that has cancer experiences.

My metamorphosis occurred in a short conversation that entailed a timeline coupled with a possible date of expiration. It was instantaneous. I felt it like a switch. There was no going back or turning around, there was only forward. Forward is a fixed variable often referred to as time.

My altered life perspective, which I immediately embraced and expressed, was met with puzzlement from some, confusion from others and often, still, is misunderstood.

I knew that I had experienced this change transiently before triggered by external events. I had felt it when somebody had died or had experienced some life tragedy that was close to me and my life journey.

Those changes were always temporary. Those events did not remold me forever. This permanent and unalterable change has nothing to do with making bucket lists, traveling and doing all the things I have ever wanted to and never made the time for?although I have done those things.

It is distinctive from that. Expressed or not, it exists in my being. I choose to share it. Words to me are cathartic and I have written much since my epiphany.

Some of the words, mostly early on, have been about my cancer experience, but my musings have morphed into expressing my changed perspective on everyday life. These often come to me as realizations as I go forward on my timeline and then crash around my brain struggling to spill out as words on a page?a way for me to impart to others the way I ?C? it.

Michele Longabaugh, a wife, mother and nurse from Wichita, is the author of ?If You?re Not Laughing, You?re Dying,? a reprint of her blog depicting her story of fighting Stage 4 Anal Cancer. Visit her website at 52shadesofblue.com