by Terry Arnold

I recall the first time I woke up, and the initial thought of the day wasn’t the haunting notion of “I have cancer.”

I initially overlooked that moment. It took me hours into my day to realize that my daily companion, the quiet fear, was no longer present—like a gun no longer held at the back of my head, waiting for an unpredictable trigger click.

For four months, I faced misdiagnosis, and upon finally receiving the correct diagnosis, I was physically uncomfortable. The cancer’s presence was conspicuous even from a non-medical perspective. Oddly enough, I felt grateful to be told, “You have cancer,” as it provided a starting point, after five doctors struggled to identify what was ailing me. I hadn’t anticipated the pain cancer itself could inflict, apart from the discomfort or life-threatening aspects of treatment. Each morning, pain pulsed throughout my body as I slowly rose from bed, feeling as if my bones were creaking, and everything was stiff. My right breast, large, misshapen, dark, and hard, felt like it might auto-amputate—I felt the cancer. Then, after undergoing treatment for a while, I woke up one morning feeling more normal, with cancer not dominating my thoughts. It wasn’t an immediate realization in the first waking hours, but later in the day, I noticed that “I have cancer” wasn’t my initial thought. It marked the first time I felt mentally free from what I had endured. In this publication, you will find an essay by Morningstar, offering a fresh and much-needed perspective on the term NED. I sensed a mental shift, and it felt positive.

The reason behind creating this magazine is life beyond our diagnosis. Many continue treatment for life (aptly termed “lifers”), and unfortunately, some succumb to this disease. Yet, it seems that all we, as cancer patients, ever discuss is our diagnosis story, and life seems to halt there. Family and friends sometimes remain unheard as co-survivors, with stories left untold. This magazine aims to be a space demonstrating that life persists beyond the diagnosis. We can discuss both joyous and challenging aspects, fostering understanding among ourselves to be more supportive. It is essential to comprehend our needs in life post-cancer diagnosis because that moment doesn’t signify the end of life. Your life retains value in the forms it takes after that diagnosis day. This is what I hope we can discuss here because cancer doesn’t own us. While it may be part of life’s fabric, we own our souls and spirits, determining our own value. I hope you find inspiration, truth, and resilience here. There will be tears and sadness, but I sign off most sincerely with Hope Always.

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