Still fighting: Edmond mom confronts cancer diagnosis daily

Edmond mom Jenny Herzberger writes about celebrating the one-year mark of her cancer diagnosis and talks about her hopes and fears during the past year and her outlook going forward.
BY JENNY HERZBERGER Modified: September 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm •  Published: October 1, 2013
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September 18, 2013, marked the one-year mark from my diagnosis.

While being told you have cancer isn't something to celebrate, it marks a significant change in our lives worth recognizing.

If you look at the glass as half full, it is a celebration that I found this lump before it spread further than it had. It is a celebration that my doctor didn't assume it was nothing. It is a celebration of the amazing friends and family who have helped us throughout the past year.

I really do feel that the glass is half full in the way that I described. I didn't get a choice about getting this disease — that I cannot change. But the blessings that have happened along the way are pretty awesome to think about.

I'm about two-thirds done with my treatment, with the hardest part behind me. When they told me it would be about a year and a half before I was done, not only did I not believe it would take that long, but I also felt like that was an eternity away.

I've expressed it before, but it is hard for me to not have a date that I will be declared cancer-free. When do I refer to myself as a cancer survivor vs. having cancer? Technically, I became a survivor after my surgeries when they removed the cancer. Chemo and radiation are my insurance policy against recurrence, but not something that got rid of the cancer. That said, it is really weird to think of yourself as a survivor while you fight like a dog to make it through chemo, radiation and more surgeries.

You are still fighting.

If you aren't fighting cancer, what are you fighting?

Maybe that is just it. I'll always be fighting cancer. I'll always be looking over my shoulder to see if it is sneaking up on me.

I'll always be afraid when I get my annual CT scans. I'll always be afraid that a persistent headache means the cancer is back … and in my brain.

I'm really not sure I'll ever be at ease.

As I write that, I feel like such a drama queen. Drama is not my normal state of being. And any time I feel dramatic feelings, I can usually check myself and think of the most logical approach to a situation.

The hard part is there is a little devil on my shoulder that makes me afraid of what might happen. The little angel usually has him bound and gagged, but sometimes he breaks free and reminds me of what I work really hard to not think about:

I could have and still could die from this.

Dramatic, right?

It sounds like drama, especially if you live in a world where you don't know many people who have breast cancer. But, if you live in my new world, you realize just how awful and deadly this disease is. You realize just how many women with moms, sisters, husbands and children — lives full of amazing people who love them so much — die. Cancer sneaks up on them, and it stabs them in the back when they weren't expecting it. Beautiful women with life stories that most people never hear because they only hear of these women as a number when they read the American Cancer Society's statistic that says, “In 2011, approximately 39,520 women are expected to die from breast cancer.”

Visit TheHerzyJourney.com


Editor's note

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Today's story is from a local cancer patient's blog written Sept. 18, with excerpts from throughout the year. Jenny Herzberger is married to Alan Herzberger, NewsOK's digital managing editor. Read her blog at TheHerzyJourney.com.

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