COLUMN: ‘We all know that cancer sucks. I learned exactly why.’

Progress reporter Jessica Peters used interviewing skills to get through cancer ordeal

The last time I wrote in this space it was to announce that I’d be leaving The Progress for awhile, to face that dreaded cancer diagnosis.

And now, I’m back.

Tada!

I’ve emerged from my chemo and radiation cycle with clear scans, the optimistic and expected results of a tried-and-true treatment for advanced cervical cancer. And my body, which had slowly taken a toll from that growing tumor, has been steadily getting stronger.

The beast — which I had dubbed The WombRaider — seems to be gone. Killed off in a series of nuclear assaults, day after day.

In the meantime, I’ve turned 42. And if this is my halfway point in life, I would consider myself lucky. Over the long stretch of time, I know that this past nine months will eventually be a blip; a hiccup in an otherwise fabulous life.

But it was a monumental blip. I’m still counting my lucky stars for the timing of the discovery of the tumor, perhaps just weeks or months before it spread further into other organs. I’m still thankful for the friendly nurses who got me through some very difficult days, and the doctors who spoke kindly and softly when needed, and truthfully when questioned.

And oh, did I have questions. I imagine they don’t get many curious reporters through the doors at the Abbotsford Cancer Clinic. I made up for it. Most days, I asked questions about the technology behind radiation treatment because it fascinates me. But I also questioned my team about advances in medical science, the history behind cancer research, and their own personal reasons for being there.

I asked, and I asked and I asked. It could be called avoidance, perhaps, but I treated each session like an interview and doing that helped me through my day. It wasn’t that I couldn’t turn work off, it was that curiosity has and always will be in my DNA.

Truthfully, I don’t remember the answers to a lot of those questions. The overall experience was overwhelming enough that some details have become a blur. But it was a source of comfort to know that I was still me. I could be laying on a cold table, utterly alone in a radiation room with a machine whirring and beeping around me, but I still had the strength of mind to question the therapists about what was on the screen.

I could be receiving a blood donation, but there was no reason I couldn’t learn a little more about how that particular blood was chosen for me. I learned through the school of experience about everything, from defibrillation to depression. We all know that cancer sucks. I learned exactly why.

Thankfully, some answers have stuck with me, and I suppose they will forever. For example, I asked a young chemo nurse one day, “Isn’t it tough to be here all day with people who are so ill, so close to death?”

“No,” she said. Everyone in that room was there because they chose to be there, she explained. They made the choice to try treatment. Not everyone can. Not everyone does. That stuck with me, every day.

My decision was easy and obvious. Who wouldn’t choose to try? But over the months that followed, I began to deeply understand why. One choice isn’t better than the other, and nobody is to judge another for their choices when faced with this hurdle.

But that brings me back here, to my desk. My old life but with the new me. Smarter, stronger, and humbled by the strength of those who have traveled this path before me, and beside me. And mostly, eager to keep asking questions, seeking answers and sharing them with you.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Jessica Peters is a reporter with the Chilliwack Progress

 

Just Posted

Calling all Ridge Meadows seniors with talent

Video auditions are being accepted until June 15

Maple Ridge MP hosts morning meeting on budget

Registration through chamber of commerce

Letter: ‘Alouette dam not for flood control’

‘Building out further on the floodplain not without risk.’

Old Maple Ridge church has big birthday

St. John the Divine now 160 years

Being Young: ‘Golden period,’ after exams

I should be plenty entertained over the summer.

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

Anti-SOGI activist slams ban on B.C. dad speaking out about transgender son’s case

A judge has told the father to stop publicly objecting to his son’s gender

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Victims injured in Lower Mainland deck collapse ranged from 15 to 83 years old

Victim Services staff have reached out to those hurt and their families

‘Ghost restaurants’ cooked up by Joseph Richard Group to meet demand of delivered food

The new Meal Ticket Brands venture aims to ‘disrupt’ the local restaurant industry

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Torched SUV linked to Vancouver’s fourth homicide

Manoj Kumar, 30, was found dead from gunshot wounds in the Kitsilano neighbourhood

Multiple sailing waits as BC Ferries deals with Easter Monday traffic

89 extra sailings had been added to the long weekend schedule

Ex-mayor of northern village claims its drivers are overpaying ICBC $1,800 a year

Darcy Repen says data shows Telkwa households are being ripped off for car insurance

Most Read