I am posting this video to celebrate my recent birthday. To understand why it is important to me, I will share a brief history:

Twenty-six months ago, I had major surgery to remove a Stage 1 Pancreatic cancer tumor. The surgeon removed 40% of my pancreas, all of my spleen, 8 lymph nodes. I was in the hospital for 5 days and, although I physically recovered very quickly (walked for 1/2 hour the first night, no pain medication), I was an emotional wreck.

The surgery took place in my abdomen, my core which had always been so strong. Now I had 5 incisions and a drain tube sticking out of my side. My body was sore. I didn’t know if I was going to die from cancer.



For the next 2 months, I was afraid to be a passenger in a car, I was unable to make myself drive – afraid a possible collision would further harm my fragile body.

This was totally out of character for me. I had driven long distances (1,000 miles) by myself since I was 18 years old and felt totally confident and self-reliant.

Two months after my surgery, my husband encouraged me to drive myself to chemotherapy – only 5 miles from our house. I was resistant and afraid. The first time I drove, I was terrified, but continued to do it for 5 months.

As time passed, I continued to face other driving challenges: first 2-hour drive to San Diego, first 2-day solo drive with my cat Hopie to Santa Fe.

Over the last 24 months, my driving anxiety diminished, and I gradually regained my confidence – in my body’s ability to heal, in my cancer recovery, in my emotional, mental, and spiritual stamina.

That was until my son invited me to ride on his new jet ski. My fear returned: “What if it sinks? What if I get thrown off it? What if my body gets injured?”

I told myself to press through the fear and try it. I sat behind him, asked him to drive very slowly, kept saying I was afraid. We stayed in the bay for a while, then headed out of the harbor, into the open ocean. Hitting the waves caused us to bounce up and down. I scooted as close to him as I could, holding on for dear life.

Then everything changed: I squeezed hard with my knees like I used to do on a galloping horse and began having the time of my life! I was laughing and screaming with Joy! Back in the bay, I told him I wanted to drive and advised him to put on his hat really tight. I started slowly – around 5 MPH- got the hang of the balance and before I knew it, I was driving at 50 MPH and loving every second of it!

Morale of the story?
You can Recover from cancer
You are Stronger than you realize
Push Through your fear and celebrate your life
You can be young and fearless At Any Age

I send my Love, Prayers, and Encouragement to cancer patients and their families around the world.
#judithannedesjardinswithcovid19talks #facingyourfearsasacancerpatient