Laura Kukucka

Laura sees pot o'gold, even if no one else can

By Laura Kukucka

This article was reprinted from Laura Kukucka's CarePage with her permission. You can view her CarePage at www.carepages.com. CarePage name: LauraKukucka

My life...

My mom and I were out shopping together recently, while Phil was at home working on our attic remodeling. I had been trying to call him for awhile and wasn't getting an answer, and I was starting to get worried. My mom asked why I was so concerned, and without really thinking about it, I told her that I'm just so darn lucky, and I'm afraid my luck will run out eventually and something bad will happen. She gave me the strangest look and said, "You know, those are really odd words coming from a cancer patient." I've had a lot of people over the years who've told me how rotten my luck is. After all, take a glimpse into my world:

I don't have a regular hairdresser, but I bought a Christmas gift for the woman at the James [Cancer Center] who draws my blood every 2 weeks.

• I let casual work acquaintances think I'm just weird when I exhibit odd behavior, like walking slowly if I'm inpain or throwing up in the office bathroom if something doesn't agree with me. I hate people feeling sorry for me, and I figure whatever their imagination comes up with, it won't be anything as crazy as the truth (which is that I have no stomach and, according to the PET scanner, "at least 25 hypermetabolic lesions" in my liver).
• Along the same lines, I let people think I'm just a non-drinking square, rather than explaining all the reasons why I don't/can't drink alcohol.
• I have a 7-inch scar down the center of my belly that people stare at if I wear a bikini…but it doesn't stop me from wearing them. I'm proud of my battle scar!
• When well-meaning people ask me if/when Phil and I are going to have kids, I just nonchalantly respond, "Nah, when you get it right the first time you don't need to have any more…" because it's just so much more socially acceptable than saying, "actually, our health won't allow us to have a baby together and some days it doesn't bother me, but other days it breaks my heart."
I have to take a painkiller every night if I want to sleep in any position other than flat on my back.
• Terms like "lymphoproliferative", "hyperplasia" and "duodenum" are second nature to me, and I can explain the difference between "histology", "pathology", "etiology" and "hematology".
• I truly no longer remember what it's like to *not* have cancer.

So…I guess I can see whereLaura Kukucka with sisters-in-law. someone might think I drew the short straw in life. But, really? I think I'm one of the luckiest people I know. Both of my parents are alive and relatively healthy. I have a big, beautiful old house in a bustling urban area that I really like, despite the fact that it gets a little cagey not too far south or east of us. I have a happy, healthy son and I'm married to my soul mate…and despite the fact that we both have cancer, our day-to-day health is pretty good overall. I've got two goofy dogs and a kitty that I adore. I have two sisters whom I couldn't love more, even if we were related by blood rather than marriage. And I have all of you – my friends and family who help me through the rough times. In short, I have so much love in my life that I sometimes feel like I should pinch myself to make sure it's real.

I've had periods of good health in my life, but at the time I might have been working in a job I didn't like, or trapped in a relationship that sapped all of my energy. There were many days when I thought that feeling lonely with someone sitting right next to you had to be the worst feeling in the world.

I'm not trying to brag. I'm simply trying to show that I think you can be as happy as you want to be. I could easily choose to focus on all of the bad stuff in my life, and spend my days sulking over my rotten luck. But what would be the point of that? I'd much rather spend my time and energy counting my many blessings!

My life… is beautiful.