Christmas 2004 CancerTen years ago today, August 27th at approximately 1:10pm I was sitting in my Doctor’s office, he was new to the clinic. I was one of his first patients. Keith was sitting in the waiting room, because I told him, “you don’t have to go in with me. it’ll be alright.” Two days before Keith and I had celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. I don’t remember what, if anything we did, because the “unknown” had been hanging over our heads. I had felt a lump in my neck. My mother was in the hospital having had her first “cancer” surgery. I went to my GP who thought it was an infection and gave me an antibiotic. He wanted to give it a week after I told him it hadn’t gone down over the weekend. I wouldn’t let it go, mainly because of my Mom having found out in July she had cancer. I called the ENT department on my own and set up an appointment to see a doctor. The first time I saw him, he pulled out a very large needle and stuck into my neck where the lump was. I couldn’t help myself and looked at what he pulled out. I kept telling myself, “yeah, it’s an infection”, but deep down I knew all that junk couldn’t be good. August 27th was my follow up appointment to get the results. If Keith went with me, I know we both knew. Yet I let him stay in the waiting room. The Doctor did not keep me waiting in that little room by myself, he came in about a minute after I settled into my chair. He opened the door, said, “hi Jerri”. He grabbed his chair with one hand with his clipboard in the other. He pulled that chair right my in front of me and sat down. Our knees were just an inch a part and he looked me in the eyes and I knew. He said, “I’m very sorry Jerri, it’s cancer”. In an instant my life changed. I lasted about 10 seconds before the waterfall of tears fell. He and I knew, but Keith, Keith still didn’t know. For about 3 minutes he could still believe, as I sat with my Doctor and cried. He asked me if I wanted Keith and I said, “no”. I didn’t want him to hear these words. I wanted to let him hope a little longer. But I broke and the Doctor sent the nurse to get him. And I knew when he came through the door that he knew and we cried. Now both of our lives had changed in an instant. I had a 2-year-old baby I would not be able to take care of within a few months and he would go to live with my mom and dad. I had a daughter who had just 2 weeks before started her first year of college and I had a teenage son, that I would not be able to tell you what he did in that time. He was on his own without me. I missed them all. I missed most of my son’s cross-country and wrestling season, I remember Keith taking me to one cross-country meet and I was so weak I had to sit in a chair and when I finally was able to go to a wrestling meet, it was with a plastic bag in hand in case I got sick. Ten years later I’m still here. Many are not. I do have Survivor’s guilt. There are days that are incredibly hard knowing I’ve survived this long. I almost died during treatment, God and I talked that night in the emergency room about dying or living, when they worked to save me. The picture of me with the orange Survivor buff, was taken Christmas Eve of that year, 2004, I had just finished my radiation treatments. I can see the swelling in my face and the burned skin on my neck from those treatments, the sores in my mouth and on my lips had healed. Most of my hair was gone from the 2 rounds of 3 different chemo’s. There were no pictures taken of me until this point. Some of my family members had a difficult time looking at me. I am not the person I was those 10 years ago. My journey has been long and it has been short. 10 years later I am still standing, while many are not. I NEVER take that lightly. I am grateful. Today is a good day to be alive and I wear many souls within my heart today and always. So happy frickin’ cancerversary to me. I’m happy and sad all rolled into one.


About jlturtlerunner

12 plus Years Surviving Stage IV Oral Cancer. I have become a "Turtle" runner since that diagnosis, as a way of saying, "Take That Sucker!" After 12 years of being a Turtle Runner, I'm adding a new title, Turtle Rucker!

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