“My Voice” by Kimberly Eberhard

Kimberly Eberhard - 'Survivor'

During my 35 years of life I have been told countless times that I’m a survivor.  I think the references to “survivor” started as far back as 15 or 16.  I was told I was a survivor for being date raped at 15.  I was told I was a survivor for working full-time and going to college.  I was told I was a survivor for being heart-broken.  I was a survivor for being a single-mom.  I was a survivor for getting married to a narcissist who abused me mentally & emotionally – and divorcing him!  So, yes, many times I have been referred to as a survivor.  Sometimes the word survivor gets thrown around easily.  Sometimes it refers to an every day person just getting through a bad day.  Sometimes we call someone a survivor with good intentions but, not really understanding what a compliment that is.  Not until I was 29 did I truly know, heart and soul, what a survivor was.

When I was 24 years old I got pregnant with my first daughter.  Her father and I had only been dating four months.  Needless to say, July 4, 1998, I became a single mother.  The first year of being on my own was the hardest of my life.  I had never lived alone.  Now I had to learn how to take care of myself while learning how to take care of my daughter.  I had to learn to grow up while raising another person.  I had to learn how to survive.

On my 29th birthday after several years of ultra-sounds, nuclear thyroid scans, needle biopsies, and a total thyroidectomy, I was told I had papillary thyroid cancer.   January of 2003 I had radioactive iodine to treat/kill the cancer.  From the date I was diagnosed until the day I was told we got it, I learned how to survive.  This was a different kind of survival.  This survival was pure fight instinct.  This survival wasn’t just for me, it was for my daughter.  I refused to allow cancer to take me away from the most important gift I had ever been given, my child.  During this time survival took on a new meaning.  It wasn’t learning how to clean, cook, change diapers or pay bills.  This surviving was learning how to LIVE!  I had to learn how to wake up each day optimistically while knowing that there was a disease that could kill me.  It was learning how to take care of my daughter without ever letting her know that mommy was sick.  It was learning how to work full-time, go to doctors, get scans, pay medical bills and still take my daughter to dance and soccer.  Get my daughter ready for Kindergarten.  It was learning how to live each day like it was my last.  This was surviving.

As you can see, being a CANCER SURVIVOR brings out the fight in you.  It makes the word survivor have a different meaning.  It makes it far more powerful.  I’m not just a survivor…I’m a SURVIVOR!!!

My fight is not over yet.  I have an appointment coming up to determine if I have a recurrence of thyroid cancer.  Oddly, I’m not worried.  I know what lies ahead  and I’m ready for it.  As I have learned in the past, I will survive!!  I will truly, passionately, whole heartedly SURVIVE! This too shall pass and with it, I will be stronger and wiser.