Editor's note: In November, the Daily News published the story of Shirili Green's experience with metastatic breast cancer. A multimedia presentation and an essay Green wrote told the story of her perspective on life after she'd been given the news that her cancer is terminal (click here to view). Now, Green shares an update on her situation, with photos by Marc Lester. On Saturday, Green will participate in the Run for Women fundraiser for breast cancer charities on a team named in her honor.May 10, 2012
When the Daily News asked me to write an update on my struggle with cancer, I said I would try, but I needed to be inspired. Today, my inspiration came. I met a new person -- Tara Koloski -- and this piece is for her and all the women out there struggling with this awful disease.
Tara had her first chemotherapy today. We happened to sit next to each other in the chemo room. She caught my eye because she seemed so young and appeared to be petrified of what is ahead of her. I could guess what Tara was feeling and her apparent distress broke my heart. I wanted to reach out. I wanted her to know that she will be fine.
I also wanted Tara to know that life goes on and even though she's at the beginning of a long path, cancer is a temporary obstacle and she can and should live a happy, fulfilled life in spite of it. I wanted her to know that it is not the end of her life. These things are easier said than done, and I know it. I know it because in order to move on, I have had to tell myself the same things quite often in recent months. I choose to believe and hope.
Since my ordeal with whole-brain radiation last summer, I've made it a point to live my life. And I mean LIVE my life! In the process of recovering and gaining some strength, my priorities shifted and my desire to enjoy life increased. I decided that cancer, my cancer, will not stand in my way. With the support of my family, I began going through my "bucket list."
Accordingly, since last August, my experiences with my daughter Mia have become more joyous, much more than mere tasks to be completed. From chaperoning school field trips to riding our bikes around the neighborhood to spending time with her troop of Girl Scouts, our time together enriches both our lives. In addition to enjoying our day-to-day routines, we have made family vacations a high priority. We've been to Hawaii three times in less than a year and our visits to the islands have been awash with memories -- we lived on Oahu for a long time -- and have laid a foundation for future reflections. For the first time, I visited Vegas, where Mia and I met with family, and we all committed to a few days of fun. And what fun we had! We don't subscribe to "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Now that school is out, I'm not sure who's more excited, Mia or me, but we plan to continue where we left off. This time, the destination is Europe. We're going to Amsterdam!
Yes, I'm tired! Exhausted, in fact. The roller coaster ride is relentless but I force myself to delight in every ascent. My life is now measured in weeks -- weeks counted from MRI to PET scan to MRI. But I'm still alive and actually living, day by day, one week at a time.
Every time the roller coaster descends I'm terrified but I always believe it will go up again. And so far, it has. And when finally it can't ascend again, I'll know it's time to leave my loved ones and hope that they'll continue to celebrate their lives and mine.
The cancer will eventually win but it will never overpower my will to celebrate my gift of life. To Tara and all the women touched by cancer, ride your roller coasters with pride! Dare to hope for healing, success, new treatment, new drug. Dare to reach out and encourage women to fight like the strong, powerful creatures we are!
Multimedia first published November 2011: