April 30th, 2017
| Survivor: Colorectal (Bowel) Cancer
I am the queen of the mixtape. Boyfriend broke up with you? I've got a playlist for you. Need an aggressive workout mix? I will have you running at top speed, no problem. Diagnosed with cancer at 35? Hmmm...it just so happens I have a great mix for that, too.
When I was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer on July 19th, 2011, it was the most surreal moment of my life. I couldn't wrap my brain around what they were trying to tell me. To help me process my overwhelming amount of emotions, on July 20th I did what I always do when I feel untethered, I made a playlist and labeled it 'Survivor'.
It began with Melissa Etheridge's, 'I Run For Life'. Some songs, such as Pearl Jam's, 'Alive' were motivational. While others, like Jane Siberry's ethereal 'Calling All Angels', allowed me to release just enough tension to cry. U2's 'Where The Streets Have No Name' was the first song I would play when I was well enough to drive again after every treatment, and the playlist ended with The Beatles' 'Let It Be'.
These songs quickly became the soundtrack for healing both my body and my spirit. And God knows I needed both.
During almost 3 years of grueling chemotherapy, I often lost my ability to walk. The drugs caused my hands and feet to lock up, limiting my mobility. My once trademark strut turned into a sad, slow shuffle. This lasted for about 4 days after treatment; which I received every 2 weeks. But, as soon as I was able to move again, this playlist was on and I was dancing! To be able to move my body again, to allow the power of music to recharge my soul made me feel alive. It was my companion during the darkest hours of my life.
This morning in the shower I was blasting some of these songs, and memories of that difficult time washed over me. I sank to the shower floor as the music faded away. I began to cry for all that I had endured over the last 5 1/2 years.
But the power of music is that it transcends all of that. When everything else is falling apart, or life's just really, really bad, music is always there. You can confide in it alone or discover how it allows you to relate to others, and feel less alone. I allowed that moment in the shower to pass and then I got up, hit play and kept on dancing because, sometimes, that's all we can do.
My Survivor Playlist:
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