Dance like nobody's watching and other advice from a bile duct cancer patient
CINDY MCCONKEY COX
My girls would have turned inside out with embarrassment if they'd seen me. After completing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for my bile duct cancer, I had a moment when I simply felt like dancing around my house. So I did.
Maybe it was the beautiful, blue-sky spring day, with the redbuds, dogwoods and tulips bringing a burst of color and life to the East Tennessee hills, where I live. Perhaps it was the beat of the music pouring out of the speakers as I watched the sun set from our deck.
It could simply have been the two-and-a-half months of just plain living life -- waking up to the sun shining on the ridge across the cove, working alongside my colleagues, attending industry events and board meetings, reading a novel and holding hands with my husband at the beach, helping my oldest daughter and her husband move to their new home, working out at the gym, going to my younger daughter's track meets, and spending time with friends talking about everything BUT my cancer treatments.
How I felt during cancer treatment
There I was, dancing around the house like nobody was watching. And thank God, no one was watching, except for my two very confused, but thoroughly excited, dogs. After all, as much as I like to dance, I've never been known for my moves!
I felt so much better than anyone had expected after the four months of chemotherapy followed by three weeks of proton therapy. My energy level was high, my appetite was normal, and I felt great -- except for some neuropathy and cramping in my feet and calves, a side effect from the chemotherapy and radiation.
'I refuse to let this cancer define me'
Both then and now, I refuse to let this cancer define me, or worse yet, confine me. I don't worry about what the upcoming tests and CT scans might reveal. I can't do anything about that right now. It's out of my hands.
What I can do is live every day to its fullest, soak in every sweet note, admire every revelation of nature, cherish every loved one and dance like no one is watching.