When I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years back, I reacted like most who receive a cancer diagnosis. The first thing that came to mind was that it was a death sentence. However, I found out later that it was truly “an awakening” for me.
I questioned God, but instead of bemoaning my fate, I decided to look for the positive side of it. I also realized that I was about to face a new beginning and new hope, to have a whole new perspective on life. I knew that I would develop and gain strength from all my experiences.
After going through all that I did during my breast cancer period, I was left with what the doctors called “neuropathic pain,” pain that is usually with you all day. Later, I was diagnosed with lymphedema. I just kept smiling and saying to myself “Oh lucky me.” For a time after my surgery, I wasn't happy with the way I looked around my breast area. I was also unhappy about the pain, but I decided to snap out of it.
After being diagnosed with colon cancer a few years later, I thought to myself, “Why another one?”
But even with the pain I have to endure through each diagnosis and all the struggles I've dealt with, I still feel truly blessed. I think about the individuals who are no longer with us. I also realize that there will always be someone worse off than I am. I still have my life.
One day during one of my surgeries, I experienced something of a miracle and felt the compulsion to write it down. I turned that experience into a poem called “Peace.” Writing became therapy for me. I took that poem, along with many others I had composed during my breast cancer period and had them published under the title “True Simple Poems of Life, Faith and Survival.” I later wrote a children’s book. I'm now working on my third.
My poems are from the heart. I hope to make a positive impact on someone who is ill, to help them find the strength to embrace life in a whole new way. I truly believe when you survive a horrific tragedy or a disease as horrible as cancer, it's for a reason. You have a purpose and I want to live to find out exactly what mine is.
That's what I'm all about now, inspiration. I'm a true example that you can survive cancer not once, but twice, providing you catch it in time, have faith and allow that faith to direct your path.
Karen Rice lives in Houston.