My story is still being written.

Cancer survivor Jeri Cash provides hope and encouragement as she reflects on her life during and after cancer.

Since I was invited to share my story, those words have been swimming around in my mind. My story.

I blogged my days during cancer treatment. I did that to share my experience, to educate, to encourage. That’s what my story is about.

I told my story in that blog. Told it in a raw, honest and candid way. Outside the parameters of that blog, I haven’t really told it in that same way. Partly because I don’t look back, I’m not going that way. I’m moving forward. On the occasions when asked, I skip the details. I hit the highlights. Most people can’t understand the struggle for survival unless they’ve been there.

My story isn’t for the faint of heart. So, when I tell my story, I pretty much skip to the present — I’m alive and cancer-free. What more is there, really? That’s the part people REALLY want to hear. They want the happy ending!

When pressed for more, I tell about firing a doctor that was assigned to me but didn’t “fit.” I tell about the miracle of anti-nausea meds. I tell about the way people react to a bald woman and the fun I had with that. I tell about the time a complete stranger walked to the furthest corner of the grocery store for me, so I didn’t have to. (I needed cream cheese!) I tell about the No Mo’ Chemo party I threw for myself. I tell about the time I woke up from a nap and realized I had driven to radiation and back with no memory of having done it. Most importantly, I always include my motto: Keep on keepin’ on.

There is nothing about my story I try to hide, and I have shared openly when asked for more. The worst thing about a cancer diagnosis is the isolation that some people find themselves in. Nobody should suffer that way. Cancer isn’t always a death sentence; it can often be a survival mechanism. After treatment, what better opportunity to go live your life?

My story is still being written. I’m grateful for that! Especially because there are parts of my story that could’ve caused it to end sooner. I honestly credit the care and expertise of Norton Cancer Institute with getting me through so much of it. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the role my plastic surgeon played in my survival, too. It wasn’t his “job” to act as a diagnostician, but saving me mattered more than who was responsible for solving the problem.

The times I’ve reflected on it all, I am so glad I found Norton Cancer Institute. I am certain my story would not be the same without them.

Thank you for giving me the continued opportunity to share, and my hope is that I can give some encouragement to other patients and families as they write their own story.

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