Two years ago today, "I was discharged from the hospital, fifteen pounds lighter, and cancer free as we drove home in the snow. I stood outside our back door letting the snow hit my face and being so scared to go inside. Life was going to be so different once I passed through those doors. This was the first time I was going to see my kids. I wasn’t going to be able to speak to them and I was anxious that that might scare them."
Robin was diagnosed with T2 squamous cell carcinoma, oral cancer of the right side of the tongue, just over two years ago. Her life changed in that instant. A week later she entered the hospital operating room feeling peace and serenity. "I simply had faith in what was about to happen. There was no fear. There was only strength." She kept reminding herself of the lyrics in a favorite song by The Beatles, "life flows on within and without you"... which would later become a tattoo on her arm.
Those who know Robin can describe her in a few words, they are: fearless, resilient, thoughtful, vibrant, spirited.
So now imagine if this personality of yours that was vibrant and full of energy had all of a sudden been hushed by your surgery or weakened by thoughts of the unknown. Robin wondered if she would ever talk again and if the pain or agony would stop? She wondered if she would ever be able to read to her babies again?
Robin spent five days in the hospital and in that time she missed snuggling her two babies more than she ever could have imagined. She also experienced one of her greatest heartbreaks as a mother, when she had to cease breastfeeding her newborn son at five months due to her cancer diagnosis and recovery. So when we spent time with her babies (now big boys), it warmed my heart that all they wanted to do was snuggle right into her with their favorite lovies (their bears) and be present with her.
As Robin shares her story for the first time and releases it from her "cancer compartment" I can share the good news with you that she can talk again, she can read to her little boys, and as of October 25, 2013 she is cancer free and the chances of re-occurrence have dropped considerably. For T2 squamous cell carcinoma, the likelihood of re-occurrence is at it’s highest during the first two years after removal. She made it to year two. Milestone achieved! Now, as Robin lives each day cancer free she continues to feel blessed with her health and life. She celebrates her strength, her triumphs and she feels empowered. She chooses JOY over fear!
I asked Robin what her greatest accomplishment is. She quickly gave me the obvious answer, motherhood. Then I asked her to consider that maybe it isn't motherhood. What if the answer is even more personal? What if the answer is… yourself? She grinned, then reflected on the past two years… with a pause, and said… yes. I am my greatest accomplishment. Yes, you are.
Robin's mantra for life is that sometimes we need "to accept that everything happens for a reason and everything that we live through is part of our story". She believes that "it's what makes us the incredible people that we are". Next time you are in the dentist's office and they check your tongue or other areas of the inside of your mouth, thank them for being thorough because they are screening for oral cancer. Click here to read more on Robin's journey...