I believe that cancer is a disease of the body, not the soul.
I am a survivor of four different cancers.
I was 36, recovering from a miscarriage, when breast cancer wiped away my dream of having a baby.
When I was 44, my husband and I were packing our bags to travel to China and adopt a baby girl. Colon cancer canceled that plan.
Three years later, we were ready to adopt again, but weeks before we were due to bring our little Laura Joy home from China, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Seven years later, in 2009, I battled another new breast cancer. I lost both my breasts in that war and I decided against reconstruction.
Cancer has changed my life forever. But I can’t go back and undo what has happened. Life goes on, and I don’t want to miss a single second.
It may sound crazy, like all that chemotherapy has twisted my brain, but I believe cancer has taught me many lessons.
I never get depressed about my birthday. Turning 58 this year was a miracle.
I’ve learned that you can’t get through cancer without help. At support groups, I’ve met women with their own unbelievable stories, women who laugh and listen with compassion. Women who inspire me.
Before cancer, I never met a psychologist, but now I believe that therapy was an important part of my recovery.
I’ve learned that cancer can be a kick in the butt, pushing me to do things I’ve always wanted to do.
With cancer, I found courage I didn’t know I had.
I believe that knowledge is power. The more I know about my disease, the better the questions I ask my doctors and the more I understand what they are telling me.
I believe that cancer was my opportunity to find God again, to look inside my soul, to deepen my spiritual life.
When my body was cut up and battered, when I was bald and tired, I realized that I am more than my body. That it’s what’s inside that matters, not the outside.
I’ve learned to count my blessings. At first, it was so difficult. I had to be patient. I had to grieve for what I’d lost. Then, I moved forward step by step, inch by inch.
Because of cancer, I lost my dream to be a mother, but children have filled my life with joy.
I am an aunt to two nieces that I’ve nurtured and loved, from toddlers to teens. For seven years, I was a Girl Scout leader. Two years ago, I joined Saratoga Mentoring, an organization that helps me help a teen who lives in a housing project.
I have two favorite quotes hanging in my kitchen:
One of them I saw in a hospital waiting room, and it says: “The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.”
The other is from Frank Lloyd Wright: “The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.”
I believe that my spirit lives on, and will live on, no matter what happens to my body.
Karen Bjornland, an arts reporter for The Daily Gazette, lives in Greenfield Center. She can be reached at 395-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.