It’s been one year and 3 months today. The focus is now on survival. My “TEAM” of doctors watch my health carefully with blood panel work ups and face to face meetings. What one doctor doesn’t measure, the next one does. The appointments seem to be every month. They share information and keep one another posted as I travel from office to office surrendering my blood and taking off my top to examine The Scar.
I think The Scar would horrify anyone but the person it lives with. One of my sisters who is a surgical nurse encouraged me to google mastectomy images so I could prepare myself before surgery. I think it brought on a hot flash when I first saw what it looked like. Go ahead and google it for yourself and you will see what I mean.. whew. Today, when I look in the mirror I see something very normal looking. I see a close call. I see abounding love. I see my unborn grandchildren. I see God’s Almighty hand reaching down to touch my life and increase my days. I see cleavage where there is none!
Each doc educates me on how to watch for cancer’s possible return, in The Scar. They are adorable the way they try to describe it and the way they try to alert me without alarming me. They also encourage me to eat right, get rest, drink water… that’s lots of water and exercise. KNOW your body! Listen to what it says, more importantly respond to it.
Keep your stress low! Now that’s funny. This is a flat-out crash course on letting go.
My TEAM, what amazing doctors and compassionate care givers they are. Me and my Scar.. we’re going to be just fine living together. Thank you God!
Her name was Mary. I caught her out of the corner of my eye when I was waiting for instructions from the young volunteer organizing our event. Mary stood with authority, with certainty, with mastery and a gigantic smile as if this were the most important thing in her life. I turned quickly to see the full form of this powerful presence in my peripheral vision. The teal colored glasses, pink baseball cap and a jovial voice gave me every sign that she didn’t care if the world approved; she was comfortable in her own skin. Something about that gave me comfort and I didn’t even know her. But WOW!
The eight of us survivors gathered on a bright glorious Sunday afternoon to throw out 8 unanimous first pitches. It was the first time I dared to mingle with other cancer survivors. Until now, I would just prefer to wipe the dust off my feet, clip the apron strings and move on from this horrible frightening world of the unknown. Something deep down said that if I hang out with these people who live with the same threat to their bodies that I live with, then I will never really live again. I’ll be stuck in this pit of sickness.
How can you live with a gun pointing at you all the time? If I get stressed, maybe it will come back. That makes me run for cover and avoid people who walk with flailing arms. If exercising is supposed to be cancer fighting, can you tell me what will happen if I’m too tired or don’t get to it? Does that mean I die? Ridicules thoughts… I know!!! Mary doesn’t think they are so ridicules though, because she has them too.
In fact, Mary is a 4 time survivor. She was told just 3 years ago that she only had 1 year to live. She laughs at the thought of not buying green bananas for that first year. She had to slowly convince herself that it was okay to buy toilet paper in bulk after the second year rolled on by and not a cancer cell could be found anywhere in her body. Her triple negative breast cancer had previously metastasized to her lungs… but no sign of cancer today. She said, “I am learning to live again,” as our conversation moved to the dugout while we waited for our signal to walk on the field.
I realized that the eight of us are playing on the same team and it’s time I get to know other survivors. Who else but my team would want to know the play by play details of the survival game? They can hear the same cheering or the same booing depending on the latest blood work up. These gals know what’s it’s like to wonder if IT will welcome back and they are not afraid to whisper it from their silent screaming voices. Thank you God , that I can be okay in my uncomfortable skin while in their presence.
We won the baseball game that day.
Have you ever noticed how many sounds are in the quiet places in your life? Have you ever longingly waited for a phone call or for a letter from someone whom you adore? Have you found yourself holding your breath when you saw something amazing before your eyes? Can you recall a time when you waited for a baby to be born? I bet you can remember an old commercial illustrating anticipation as we all waited for ketchup to roll out of the bottle.
When cancer treatment is over and your hair grows back, anticipation remains. My loved ones have moved on, the emergency is over. God has set me down and is expecting me to walk again. The bubble that I’ve lived in for the past 15 months is dissolving. My energy is back and I’m crossing things off of my bucket list, but anticipation just won’t disappear. Everything is returning to normal. However, I am not normal anymore… or then again, some might say I never was!
I see things so differently now. I have incredible moments of clarity, but there are moments when my head is submerged in the clouds. This vanishing cocoon of affection, protection and weekly Dr.’s visits alarms me. Don’t you see that I will never be the same again? I will hang my hat on HOPE for the rest of my days and anticipation will nestle itself in my soul for a while longer to make my heart race.
Constant encouragement and supervision of my health, dare I say, has rendered me handicapped somehow in some way? My last chemo treatment was the most terrifying of all because it meant that we wouldn’t be killing cancer anymore. How do I know we got it all? How do I know it won’t start to grow again? Anticipation.
The overwhelming love and attention received was a great distraction and shelter from my reality. The doctors have faded back out of view; the flowers and meals have stopped coming and the tender encouragement is diminishing. This weaning makes me want to grip dependence, because it feels lonely. It’s unpleasant and necessary to get sober in thought. It’s a terribly needy place to rise from and one I don’t want to be seen in.
This is the quiet place in life. It’s after a near miss. It’s when the whirlwind storm is over. This is normal again? Not so much! Dear Lord, let me hear the sound of your Angel Armies in my quiet place. Let my mind be strong and my tomorrow bright.
The day to day story about how cancer affected our lives can be found at
I originally started to write on another blog http://thelordsdwellingplace.blogspot.com/ a couple of years ago, because I felt ” called”. Then, lo and behold within a month I found out that I had breast cancer.
I continued to write-through the entire cancer process, from finding out about the cancer at a screening to a bilateral mastectomy and recovery from chemotherapy… I received an amazing amount of encouragement from friends and strangers who asked me to continue writing. I was finally convinced to keep going when I stumbled on a back screen on my old blog one day and found that thousands of people from all over the world had taken the cancer journey with me, through my writing!
Eventually, I found myself at a writer’s conference called She Speaks in North Carolina. I soon realized that writing has a lot more to do with “marketability” then any of us realized! There is a need to have a “Platform” before a publishing company will consider someone as a serious author. You can write and it can be great. However, you need to help sell books and magazine articles or publishers will find a different writer who can. Making a move to WordPress gives credence to a writer. I’m not sure why or how just yet, but it does. So, here I am! New and improved blog? New and improved message? New and improved messy life? New and improved… fill in the blank here__________.
So, on this blog I most likely will not have exciting news about cancer. Let’s hope I don’t have any news at all about that topic. I will blog about my imperfection, transformation and try my hardest to share Jesus with you from the events in my everyday life. To start with, I will share one very important conclusion about cancer with you and then we can be done with it. I am glad for the gift of cancer. I am GLAD! I thank God often for allowing me the opportunity to really consider what is important in life. How many days do I really have and how can I best use them… what purpose can I make out of them?
Upon this consideration, many things had to change. I had to change the way I responded to offense. I had to change what I pursued and why I pursued it. I changed my mind about the things I thought I needed to control and how I deal with disappointment. I changed the way I eat and take care of myself. I giggle when thinking about how different everything is from my new short dark hair to the inner crevices of my heart and I am so grateful! I stood at the door of mortality and was forced to knock on it to see if it would open. It stayed closed. Whew!
It’s a Do Over! A Second Chance and I say that with a smile! Come with me and explore life!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Yes Lord, I will follow you in every area, absolutely I will…. except one. There is one area where I’ve decide that I am not enough, not talented enough, not skilled enough and not competent … that’s where and when I don’t want to follow you. You have asked me to write.. and I have said not now, not tomorrow, maybe never! I would love to write, but I really don’t think anyone will want to read what I have to say. This one thing is different. Please ask something else from me. Ask me to go to Africa and I will! Ask me to give away everything that I have and I will. Please just ask… ask me what I think I’m good at, what I think I can do and I’ll do that for you. If I could sing for others to hear, I would. Wouldn’t that talent at least be obvious? But to write, seriously? I can’t spell! My grammar is terrible and I failed high school English! They are just letters and words on a page. I really don’t think people would have any reason to read about my experiences. The yearning to write seems self-indulgent. An indulgence that bounces around inside of me and takes clippings from every lesson, every perspective and every circumstance. Boy, what I would say if someone would listen! But God, you are asking me to be transparent, to be vulnerable and expose all my weaknesses. Lord, I really don’t believe that anyone wants to listen… so it seems meaningless… to just write.
But now, my plans, my ideas and schemes have all failed. I have pursued the wealth of the world to find my security and found worry instead. I have pursued people who have failed me when they turned out to be simply human. I have pursued being the best mother, wife, daughter I could be for recognition and accolades from my peers; I discovered that they were here today and gone tomorrow. All the passions and dreams I held did not come to true. So my thoughts; Why not just do what you asked, Lord. I’ll Just Write.