Molly Schaechtele: Never forget who you are
I’ve been diagnosed with cancer four times, but this is it. I have stage IV colon cancer, and there is no stage V. But I’ll tell you, I believe there are long-term survivors of colon cancer. And if not, I can be the first. Somebody has to be, and I’m happy to be first in line.
Actually, I’m a very happy person. I was happy before I had cancer, and I’m happy now. My little brother, who is so upset by my diagnosis, watched me dance down the street at a festival and said, "How can you be so happy?" I told him I can be happy with cancer or sad with cancer. Either way, I have cancer. So why not enjoy life? Otherwise, you’re just dying early.
Some of my greatest joy comes from attending my two support groups at Community Hospital. I go to the Breast Cancer Early Support Group on Wednesdays, where I have the most amazing experiences. I grow so much. I went from paralyzed with anger and fear to thinking, "OK, I’m not going through the rest of my life this angry and this scared." It is a very life-affirming group.
One woman in the group was a wreck only three months ago. Yesterday, I witnessed this tower of strength and positive attitude in her as she helped a new patient. You grow and you develop a glow as you learn how to move more gracefully down this path.
This is going to sound really weird, but this past year has been the best year of my life. I have made so many more friends, have learned so much, and have grown so much.
My Thursday Women’s Cancer Support Group is for people who have been on their journey longer. They may have recurrent cancer or different types. There, I can discuss absolutely anything and everything that’s going on in my life. Mostly, I’m focused on living.
A nurse told me not to do anything that doesn’t give me pleasure. Of course, chemotherapy and other treatments aren’t always pleasant, but they’re necessary, so you just do them and then move on to more enjoyable things. Since my diagnosis, my husband and I focus on pleasant activities, anything that brings us joy. Maybe everyone should live that way.
The day after they told me I could not be cured, I wrote a poem called, "When I am cured of cancer." And then I wrote another. And another. And now I’ve written a book about the humor hidden in cancer along with the silver linings.
"Tickle Me Pink" is available at the Comforts gift shop at CHOMP.
After a long and courageous fight, Molly passed away in February 2013.