It took Nerves of Steel to write this blog series. To just make the announcement: “Robin Marshall has Cancer, There… I Said It!” You’ll never know how frightened I was to share that news. I thought, “It is better that people hear it from me and not let it get all twisted up in a gossipy form from others.” After telling my kids about it, I thought, “How will my kids react when they read this?” Other questions that penetrated my brain like, “how will my employers’ react, my co-workers, what happens to my book that I just released, will my PR staff stay with me and ride out this storm?” “Will I even survive the operation, will they get all the cancer, what will the chemo really do to me, and will I be able to bounce back to the woman I was so comfortable being?” I mean, it took me over 50 years to finally become her!
I’m so happy that I did come forward for so many reasons! I’ve learned who my true friends are, without even having to ask. They came forward; arms open with words of encouragement and offers of help. Facebook friends that I’ve met at conventions, or just online have done nothing but be supportive by reading, applauding my baby steps and offering the high-5’s when necessary. My kids have read along and have seen the value of telling the truth. They understand that truths are worth sharing and can travel quite the distance like miles and miles of virtue just waiting to be followed; the perfect pathway.
After two years of living in Dallas, I’ve finally found the time to bring one child at a time to visit me. So far, two out of the five have come, and I’ve learned so much about them from that much needed one on one time that we seem to lose sight of as they grow up. I left them behind to support them while moving to a strange city, and at times I was the one that felt so abandoned. Losing connection with your children is like losing a limb. We all get caught up in the “whys” of life, and I’m now dedicated to making sure the other three get here too. My son arrives in a couple of weeks! The other two are fighting over who gets to come next! They want to take care of me! Never in my life, did I ever think my children would be the ones to take care of me.
My eldest sat by me during the first round of chemo and never complained as I was sick. We talked and talked about life, and its many surprises, one of them being an observation by me: she had become a woman of substance. I think she is a better daughter than I was to my own mom. I was in awe! My middle child came next and once again we discussed things that normally would be lost in the middle of a seven member family. Important things that matter to her, things I didn’t know. Things she was afraid to tell me for fear I’d be disappointed in the choices of where she wanted her life to wind up. The fact that I didn’t know that she doubted my love or my flexibility to ride with her decisions, was a total eye-opener for me. By just being able to offer advice that she willingly listened to, then seeing her exhale when she understood that I’d be by her side no matter what, was yet another huge step in my journey to the truth. I can’t wait to see what the other three will offer me in life lessons!
My eldest and I flew to Pittsburgh to see my mom who had been in the hospital for most of my initial cancer recovery period. It was the first time I was able to make that trip, and as the three of us sat in the hospital room, me being in the middle, my mom only able to talk by mouthing words and using her hands to write due to a track tube installed, I watched her lips, looked at my daughter’s eyes, wondering why they weren’t rolling anymore as they used to do with me, and then we both proceeded to get yelled at by a woman who can’t talk! My mom told me to “Shut Up,” and to my daughter she said, “I asked you to turn up the thermostat by TWO degrees, NOT THREE! Go FIX it!”
I sat between the generations of attitude and pictured that apple tree… Wow… I hope I’m around long enough to see the apples that fall from my children’s’ branches!
I’ve found that as frightening as the beginning stages had been, as I told the story of my journey I was able to accomplish something on a less personal level but an even grander scale which was to raise the alert for other women, their spouses, and their children to take note of the signs or lack thereof, for ovarian cancer. It’s a disease that can’t be seen! The only proactive medical steps are to pay attention to your body and not to shy away from things that aren’t feeling as they should.
As a result of writing this blog beginning on Aug, 2014 I’ve had 9 women write to thank me for opening their eyes. Three needed a hysterectomy, three have detected some kind of cancer and they caught it early on, and the others are still waiting for their Doctor’s reports.
I am no saint. I was just a frightened woman that felt the need to vent, explain, cry and lean… but this outcome of knowing I was able to help, makes me understand that all the fear in the world, along with that empty pit in my stomach that caused me anxiety and palpitations while telling my story, was worth it.
If one woman can write it and change the lives of nine other women, imagine how many lives we can change together by you forwarding this blog to every other woman or man who loves a woman, that you know.
Make the difference. There are over 3000 of you that are reading this blog. If every one of you forwarded it to 5 people you care about, that’s 15,000 potential lives that can be made aware or even be saved. My mom calls it “team work!” Oddly enough… so do I.
It’s those damn apples…