Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-16 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
Two weeks ago, though it seems more like months, I was diagnosed with a fast growing and spreading uterine cancer, hopefully in its early stage. The good news is that it is “treatable.” The not so good news is that the treatment, which is not a cure, is a total hysterectomy, followed by “aggressive” chemotherapy. It is all so surreal. One day I am feeling healthy and strong and the next I learn that cancer is a war raging inside of me, and I have been drafted to fight on the front lines. I cling to the hope that my test results and lab work were mixed up with someone else’s and I really don’t have cancer.
Having both Parkinson’s disease and cancer is unquestionably unfair, but I cannot afford to waste my limited energy feeling sorry for myself. It falls under the “shit happens” umbrella, and no one is immune to that. I am fortunate to be starting out ahead of the game, with an army of friends and relatives already lined up to fight alongside me. Led by my husband, Tony, they are with me in good times and bad, helping me laugh in the face of my fears and celebrate even the smallest of victories. With their support and encouragement, my own resolve, and an outstanding team of doctors, I will weather this latest medical storm just as I have earlier ones.
This is a war I cannot lose. In fact, it requires a decisive victory if I am to achieve my goal of long-term remission. I am well aware that cancer is the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced, and I would be lying if I said I had no fears going into this battle. At the end of the day, however, I am a survivor, and I will survive this, too. The young general leading my army is a highly decorated gynecologist, oncologist, and surgeon who exudes confidence, and has that rare combination of good technical skills and good bedside manner. She will perform my surgery next week, either through a few small incisions using surgical and robotic technologies or abdominally, depending on which offers the best opportunity to find and remove all of the cancer hiding inside of me. In the best of all possible worlds, the minimally invasive approach will get the job done, allowing me an easier and shorter road to recovery, and sparing my trademark “abs of steel” that took 17 years to sculpt.
The most painful part of this journey with cancer is breaking the news to those who have already been through so much with me. With a cure for Parkinson’s still eluding us, I worry how I will keep up with the exercises and activities that have enabled me to live well with Parkinson’s for so long, while fighting cancer on a second front. My neurologist assures me that the Parkinson’s will be fine, and that getting rid of the cancer has to be my first priority.
I am putting my cancer on notice right here, and right now: I will prevail. You are in my house, playing with my ball, and by my rules. Every room is packed with my fans, their deafening cheers empowering me to keep fighting, and never give up. Rachel Platten’s Fight Song, has become my anthem:
“This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.”