If you type my name into Google, you may come up with a couple articles I wrote about the tenth anniversary of 9/11, but that’s not what this 11 year celebration is all about.
See 1o years and 364 days ago, I had an appointment scheduled as a recheck on my cancer treatment. It would either mean I was currently cancer-free or that I would need more treatment. I didn’t make it to my doctor, just a few blocks, from the World Trade Center on Sept. 12, 2011.
I had to wait for phones to work again and my doctor’s office to reopen in order to reschedule. I went in a couple weeks later, and the smell of death of asbestos clung to my hair and clothes. As I was prepping, the nurse said to me: I’m glad you’re okay. We don’t know about so many of our patients until they just don’t show up for an appointment.
There was an exam and some tests, an ultrasound performed. It was quick and I walked away with knowledge things looked good. It wasn’t until a few days later that the doctor called and said I was cancer-free. I had many years to go until I could say remission.
I’ve experienced and accomplished so much with my life that I don’t often refer to myself as a survivor. Perhaps it could even be a hang-up of my 9/11 experience. I have friends who are survivors, dug out of rubble, trapped for hours in a collapsed stairwell. First responders and little worker bees. Me, I was at home that day watching from my window.
Or perhaps, it’s because I don’t want to become a disease. I don’t want my identity to be overshadowed by labels. Yes, I had cancer. Yes, I have endometrosis. But I am so much more than that. Those two things do not define me, nor do they dictate how I live. I’d rather you see me and not a disease.
You’ll never see me wear the “Survivor” band at races, but that doesn’t lessen my experience, my present, or my future. But it has been 11 years since I kicked cancer to the curb. That’s kind of special.