We’ve come so far…

The comments on the last post remind me really how amazing it was that this year, I was able to go to a professional conference, even wrapped, and make the most of it.  I was right in the thick of things, leading meetings, mentoring young scientists, encouraging old friends, and listening to the leaders of my field.  I made the most of every moment, dragging myself back to the hotel every night exhausted.  But the good kind of exhausted, y’know?

A year or so ago, it wasn’t this way.  Susan K commented on the last post, “last year in Huntsville, you were uncomfortable, hiding, avoiding, stressed about all the interactions and got difficult, stupid, hard-to-answer comments in reply. In Houston this year, you are confident, matter-of-fact, no-biggie-let’s-move-on, and you get what you want and need back.”  She’s right.  She’s really right.  [And she was there in Huntsville, so there’s no glossing over it.  It was very difficult for me to be at a scientific meeting bald, sick, tired, and with a body that would barely make it through the sessions.  At one point, I even lay down on the chairs in the back row, reluctant to leave the talks, but without enough energy left even to sit up.]

That time in Huntsville was so painful it actually hurts to remember it.  I was in the middle of chemo, then, though, and hadn’t yet had surgery, so I was still carrying around the cancer, both literally and figuratively.  If you weren’t around then, here’s a couple of posts about the questions that my colleagues asked and what I wish had happened instead.  I didn’t leave the hotel, because I didn’t have any energy.  I passed out during a working lunch and had to have former colleagues help me walk back to the elevator, where my husband met me and nearly carried me back upstairs.  I was sick and nauseated.  Heck, I had just had chemo a few days earlier.

Yeah.  This year’s conference went thousands of times better.

I’m back home now, and it was a success.

A big success.

I’m going to take a couple days to catch my breath, and then I’m going to rerun and/or link to a few posts that tell my cancer story in a nutshell, for those of you just joining us, or who weren’t here in June 2007.  I keep thinking that maybe I’ve said enough … and then I get emails from survivors and families who want me to say more.  I will.  I’ll keep talking as long as it’s helping someone out there.  There is a message here.  Survival is wonderful, but none of us really know how long we have on this earth.  I have one motto, and I’m going to live by it. I’m making today count.

6 Responses to We’ve come so far…

  1. Donna W says:

    You are SO my heroine.

    I only wish I were an excellent writer. I’d tell the world.

  2. Sara says:

    How wonderful! I remember reading those posts last year. You’ve come a LONG way. So happy the conference went well for you this time around.

  3. Amelie says:

    I’m so happy to hear this.

    This week I attended a talk dedicated to a young woman who had died from breast cancer. It was a sad honor.

  4. bon says:

    it is so strange and poignant to look back on those hard places in our lives where we have been exposed…it always makes me breathe deeply and offer up thanks that now is not then, that i have been able to leave that place mostly behind.

    congrats on your success in Houston, Susan. congrats on making it count.

  5. baby prams says:

    great motto to live by.
    a friend of mine recently died in Vancouver while she was crossing the street talking on her phone.
    i guess she wasn’t paying attention and the driver didn’t see her.
    it was really sad and I’m hurt because I haven’t seen her in years
    today has to count or else everyday is just the same and nothing new.. life becomes too mundane and we stop appreciating.
    I’m thankful for finding your blog and look forward to reading more about your story.

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