Jane celebrates her birthday while raising anal cancer awareness.
Being diagnosed with Stage 1 Anal Cancer at 45 years old, and subsequent Stage IV AC three years later, roused a fear deep within me and rocked me to my core. A sentiment understood by many that have been a part of this non-enviable “club”. My brave cells have replied with a healing that now defines my spiritual strength. Gratitude for this healing, both physically and spiritually, presented me with an opportunity to share my 50th year on this earth with my family and friends that surround me with so much love and support every day. A gathering for a “Celebration of Life” was also a call for an Anal Cancer Awareness event. I requested that in lieu of gifts my guests may donate to the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation.
Like many, Anal Cancer was a disease I had never heard of until Farrah Fawcett passed from it. I had heard of Colon or Rectal Cancer, but not Anal Cancer. After my diagnosis I quickly learned that no one felt very comfortable with the area from which my cancer arose. Why is that? I certainly didn’t choose where my cancer decided to make itself known; why should I be ashamed of it? This was probably the way so many women felt when they were diagnosed with Breast Cancer decades ago. An awareness event reminded people of this fairly rare cancer and its likely link to HPV. It’s also important to know that, like me, you can have regular annual gynecological testing with normal results, no signs or symptoms, and still be affected by this disease. If even just one person touched by my story has decided in favor of the HPV vaccine for their child who initially was against it, it is worth talking about.
Being stage IV with “no active disease” seems like an oxymoron; a contradiction in terms, but we “clubbers” know, we don’t go backwards in stage. It is living in the “unknowing”. Perhaps it is the gentle reminder for me to focus the spirit within me that helps to define me and guide to where I am meant to be; the spirit that directs me to use my lessons of healing to help those around me; the spirit that allows me to trust that I will be here as long as it is intended for my light to shine and let me be a light for others. A celebration of life every day!