Samantha (Sam) Kuhr is a longtime Erin Condren employee, travel enthusiast, boy mom, cancer survivor and travel blogger. She can be found detailing her incredible travels, beautiful family and courageous health battle on her blog, My Travelling Circus. Sam is a beloved member of the planner community and active planner conference moderator and speaker. Today she’s bravely guest blogging and sharing first-hand tips for navigating a conversation with someone with cancer.
Three years ago my life and body changed forever when I discovered I had stage 2 breast cancer and needed many major surgeries and possibly chemotherapy and radiation. I had two cancerous tumors removed, both breasts, and 13 lymph nodes.
I’m grateful for each day I get to walk this earth, and couldn’t have survived without the outpouring of love and support from my ‘village’, however, I’m permanently changed.
Here are six things a cancer survivor wishes you knew:
1. Sometimes I’m so nervous when I go to my oncology appointments, I vomit in the bathroom of the waiting room. But I put on this brave face when you ask how my appointment went as though it’s no big deal.
2. I prefer to hear success stories, not horror stories. Please be sensitive when sharing stories about your friend who had a double mastectomy at 38, only for the cancer to come back three years later and now she’s dead. It’s not that I don’t care about your friend, I really do…but this is a cancer survivors greatest fear, and it’s hard to go there.
3. I no longer have control over my body and emotions. The chemicals I take on a daily basis are totally running this ship. Some days I barely feel them, and other days I don’t even know who this crazy person is. None of this is deliberate. Please don’t take it personally, and please forgive me. I’d love to not take these drugs, but you see, those same chemicals that sometimes turn me crazy, are the same chemicals that are supposed to keep me alive.
4. Sometimes it feels like a bad dream, and I can hardly believe this happened to me, until I see my Erin Condren LifePlanner™ filled with dates, test results, business cards and future appointments.
5. When people say “You’re all good now right?”…. what I want to say is that I’m all good unless these cancer cells in my body decide to grow and take a tour of my body again. You see this is how it works for me now. If my cancer returns, it’s not because I did or didn’t do something… it’s because those are the cards I’ve been dealt.
6. I honestly feel lucky as crazy as that sounds. It’s amazing I’m still here. Instead of feeling angry cancer paid me a visit, I feel I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to celebrate another day. I also know there are no guarantees. For any of us. There never were. And yes, I worry about ‘recurrence’ more often than I want to, but I remind myself we’re all here temporarily on borrowed time and each day is a gift.
Throughout my journey, I’ve had the good fortune to meet an incredible network of people involved with breast cancer awareness. I feel incredibly grateful that Erin Condren is a huge supporter, and generously donates 50% of sales back from her breast cancer awareness collection. I’m thrilled she has partnered this year with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and look forward to supporting research and prevention of this horrible disease that affects so many of us.
Let’s make a pact to live life large each day we’re here! Who’s with me?