Our Rural Roots

Ring the Bell Against Cancer

(Jennifer Campbell)

This month marks five years since the doctor looked at me and said the words "no sign of cancer." It is a milestone, but I will never be "cancer-free," because cancer is never far from my mind.

It seems like both yesterday and a lifetime ago when it started. I had finished planting the last field of soybeans when I climbed out of the tractor soaked in blood and physically exhausted.

Within two weeks, the word "cancer" would be a daily word in my life. A good friend said I was in "fight-or-flight" mode with emphasis on "fight." I put my head down and kept putting one foot in front of the other. I was blessed to be surrounded by family and friends, and I never once went to an appointment alone.

Lucky isn't a word often associated with cancer, but I use it all the time. I was diagnosed with Stage 2b cervical cancer and started treatment immediately. Six rounds of chemo, 30 radiation treatments and five brachytherapy procedures later, I'm still here.

Cancer took from me but also gave. Not four months after my all clear, I was helping my then-15-year-old son halter calves. He looked at me and casually said: "I think cancer took your macho." I wasn't offended. I was pretty pleased my son thought I had macho to begin with. Truth is that cancer had taken my macho, because it had shown me how quickly life can change.

To say it gave me a different perspective today may seem cliche. I've always valued life and have been of strong faith. However, I now feel less pressure to fit into a mold or prove I can be everything to everyone. Cancer showed me what I'm made of and how to be true to myself. That's worth ringing the victory bell as often as I want.

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-- Jennifer (Jent) Campbell writes and celebrates life from a seventh-generation Indiana family farm. She also writes a blog called Farm Wife Feeds (https://farmwifefeeds.com/…). Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) @plowwife and on the podcast @girlstalkag

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