This is the second, in a series, of regular posts I’m sharing about my experience and journey with cancer.
It was the first day of chemotherapy after a dreaded cancer diagnosis a month earlier. A countdown I wasn’t looking forward to, until the very moment I sat in the chair and a rush of positivity came my way.
My nurse said, “Wow, you seem happy. People usually aren’t happy right about now.” I just kept thinking of the positive.
After posting a photo of me smiling on my personal Facebook page, friends close to me texted and wished me well.
“How the hell are you smiling right now while you’re getting this chemo pumped into you?” A friend asked me in her usually cynical way.
So I bombarded her with a list of why I was smiling.
Moral of the story, as cliche as it sounds, there’s ALWAYS a silver lining and if you look hard enough and go beyond the negativity, there’s always a positive.
Reasons I’m Smiling on my first day of chemotherapy
(1) I received a message from a family member in Crete… “Family folklore says that your paternal grandmother strangled Nazis with her bare hands… Fighting is in your DNA. Keep fighting.
I don’t remember my paternal grandmother because she died on my first birthday but I have heard the stories. Family folklore says she hardly ever smiled and the lore about the Nazis and how she handled them with her bare hands has been corroborated by many. She even got a letter praising her support of the Allied cause during the invasion of Crete.
Side note: A Facebook friend read this post and shared a book with me, which I purchased immediately. It’s a national best-seller called “Natural Born Heroes” by Christopher McDougall that actually opens in the mountains of Crete in the 1940s when the Nazis had occupied the island.
The author’s journey begins with a story of remarkable prowess and heroism by a motley band of World War II Resistance fighters—an artist, a shepherd, and a poet, who abducted a German general from the heart of the Axis occupation. To understand how, McDougall retraces their steps across the island and discovers ancient techniques for endurance, sustenance, and natural movement that have been preserved in unique communities around the world, like Crete. It was one of the most interesting reads I’ve had in a while. Get the book here.
(2) My cancer is Stage Two, although malignant and described as “aggressive” by those who are treating me— it could have been Stage 3. Or worse, Stage 4. I was able to listen to my body when this was all going on prior to surgery and catch it relatively early.
(3) I have an army of people— live and virtual, close and half way across the planet— rooting for me, cheering me up, sending emails, text messages, olive oil from their grandmother’s village (Thanks Stratos!) and so much goodness around me. That smile is truly a smile of gratitude you see.
(4) Out of nowhere I received a message from a Facebook friend who has been following my journey… Coincidentally, Dr. Stella is a fellow Greek and specializes in radiological oncology. Although I’m not doing radiation, she was able able to benefit from her insight… not to mention a bag of Mastiha gum. And what would a doctor be without a medical paper to share? Yep— a medical paper about the significance of Mastiha gum!
(5) Walking into NYU Cancer Center in Midtown Manhattan reminded me of how lucky I was, living in a city with some of the most advanced cancer research and treatment in the world.
(6) Friends and strangers alike are sending me messages and videos of support and encouragement, including songs by their children, including this one by Anna in Ohio. I have an army of supporters helping to push me up tis mountain.
(7) And finally, I texted my friend back that “chemotherapy” was a Greek word… chemo (χημείο) means chemical and (θεραπεία) means therapy. I mean, how bad can it really be if it’s Greek?
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