“My Voice” by Dara Barr

Dara Barr - 'Survivor'

Truth be told I believe I have always been a survivor.  We all have.  In my mind, however, not everyone has been put to the challenge the way a cancer survivor has.

It wasn’t until I turned 40 years old that this was really put to the test.

When I turned 40 years old, at the end of the summer I had this aura that something wasn’t right.  It wasn’t old age, as everyone reassured me;  I couldn’t put my finger on it. Nonetheless I celebrated with my BFF’s and we had a great day of pampering, food, drink, and good laughs.

A month later I knew in my heart something really wasn’t right.  I went to my doctor who LISTENED carefully to my symptoms and concerns and he directed me to another doctor who LISTENED to me and took testing a step further.

After my MRI, I learned my intuition and symptoms were real.

When I got the call that “something wasn’t right, and the Dr. would like to see you tomorrow morning”, I was working at the computer during “quiet time” with my preschool class.  I  turned into a jellyfish of  draining emotions.  I couldn’t concentrate.

The nurse did NOT reveal important facts over the phone – she was very vague. Again, I knew.

The afternoon, before my morning appointment with my husband by my side, I cried.  I cried a lot. I was scared.  My parents died of cancer. Now it was my turn.  I have a husband, three children under the age of 12.  How was life going to go on?

I went in to the doctor’s office and the bomb dropped.  “Fallopian tube cancer.   Operation.  Biopsy.  CANCER. CANCER. CANCER. CANCER.  I went numb. I couldn’t hear.  I saw her mouth moving but all that went through my mind was CANCER. CANCER. CANCER. CANCER. Death.

Then something happened.  Certainly not right away, but it came to me, after surgery and a couple rounds of chemo…life goes on.  Certainly, I would like to take credit for this fact about the human race: life goes on. It always does.  Those weeks of chemo, when you’re in a haze and having your many lows, a lot happens, with out your involvement and contribution.  Life went on without me. So when the light bulb finally went off, I did believe I discovered this realization about life.

My awakening made me realize my children will go on and my husband will go on, and I will certainly be part of them no matter what path my cancer brings me down, because life goes on.

As a result, I decided I was going to SURVIVE and enjoy the life I had.  The glass is either half full or half empty, right?  Well as a survivor, I see the glass as half full! Sure there are days when the effects of medication and chemo bring me down, yet I believe there is always a light at the end, and each day offers something different.

It has been a little over two years since my first diagnosis.  Unfortunately the cancer came back and round two of attack is in progress.  The important thing for me is: never in all of this time, have I let go of being a SURVIVOR, nor have I felt cheated, or angry. As a SURVIVOR, I can kick ass. I do get sad and I show that emotion. I hold in my mind, and it is easy for me to do this, I am a model for my children, my husband, my siblings, and many dear friends. They all look to me for leadership and learning.  As a teacher, I thrive in this role. I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a best friend and I am a SURVIVOR.  I am going to make the best of it and embrace the life I have.