A diagnosis of cancer can bring our evolution here on this earth to a screeching halt, right? Not so fast, my friends. Sometimes, the darkness of the diagnosis brings a deepening sense of “all things SHE” and a brightness that we can only find because of that darkness.
In September 2017, a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in her colon and liver. As a part of her Caring Bridge, she began to simply jot down her feelings. She asked for good vibes and prayers that, somehow, she would be granted a miracle. We are still praying and are optimistic for that miracle. But a funny thing happened along the journey…while she waited for her miracle, she became OUR miracle.
When I asked her to be my guest blogger, she replied, “but, I am not a writer.”
As I explained to her, Evolution of SHE is not about labels or titles or skills sets…it is about the raw and honest emotions, the feelings a woman encounters in every journey and how she responds. I am thrilled that she agreed to be this week’s guest blogger. She is honest, raw, has a tremendous sense of humor, and is fighting the fight of her life openly and without reservation. This is all a part of her evolution in this life and in HER journey, a miracle has happened inside of ME.
So when you are making those New Year’s Resolutions for 2018, or when you go to respond to that angry post on Facebook or even when you are faced with a situation that is less than desirable…remember her words, find your perspective and, if you are so inclined, please say a little prayer for her. For her kindness, for her honesty, for her smile and quick wit, for her willingness to share with us and for her miracle:
When the Doctor tells you “you will never go off chemo because you have stage IV liver cancer and there is not a cure” – what do I hear but “you will have a week off in between treatments”. Well tomorrow I finish my first drip and pill regimen and then my week off begins. How great is that! Hoping all my chemo side effects go away for a week but even if they don’t – I’m here and I get to start all over next week. That is what I hear – I’m strong enough to start over next week.
So much ugliness in the world and in my body right now……………..and yet there is also beauty. I saw a mom tickling her infant son at the store on Sunday and his laugh was so precious it literally brought tears to my eyes. I stopped and really looked at the stained-glass windows in our church and was amazed at how beautiful they are – never really noticed them before. We went to the arboretum for a dinner and the fall pumpkin display was just stunning. But the most beautiful thing of all – the smiles on the faces of my children after asking how I feel and I say – “I’m good.” Just look at your children’s smiling faces – now that is beautiful.
One of my goals has been to make my doctor laugh every visit. Mission accomplished. Finally my doctor has even started joking with me. At first I don’t think he had any idea how to take me. After all, can you imagine what he deals with all day, every day! God bless him. I told him last week that I was in the business of “prolonging lives” just like him. He smiled and raised an eyebrow. I then explained I’ve had 3 people actually get a colonoscopy and at least 5 schedule one all because my primary cancer was colon cancer. I waited for a fist bump – but guess that was pushing it. He did say I should have colonoscopy parties. I just can’t imagine what that invitation would be like.
Everyone is just waiting for a smile and a laugh. Rarely have I smiled at someone and they did not smile back! Please try it sometime. So much beauty in seeing people smile and hearing their laughter. If you can find some way to laugh at yourself every day you will feel so much better. It is the best feeling when tears turn to laughter. Always keep your chin up…..otherwise you are just looking at your chest all day.
When I told my husband I was sorry I was making him so sad he quickly corrected me by pointing out that he has and always will be so very happy just to be around me – never sad. The cancer makes him sad. So we will be sad about cancer but happy with one another and our beautiful family and friends – always.
So let your smile change the world – don’t let the world change your smile.
I have a friend, a cancer survivor, a wonderful man of faith, and an incredible inspiration to me, who told me this: He said he kept his pair of shoes by his bedside during his cancer treatments. He would get out of bed and no matter how bad he felt from cancer he would get those shoes on.
They are symbolic of course. If he could put on the shoes then he could get moving and get on with his day. He could begin and be grateful for a new day. I listened and thought – I do the same thing, only I get up every day, make the bed and put on a little makeup and get dressed. If I can do that, I can get out of the house and start my day. For that day I win, cancer doesn’t.
I am grateful to be able to start a new day. Everything with me is day by day. I have such a long journey ahead and most of you will someday stop wanting to hear about it, but day by day if I get out of bed, get dressed and get out of the house, I win.
That is the way you have to see cancer, not from the “why me, this is so hard on my family, I cannot handle this chemo, I am in constant discomfort” viewpoint; but to see cancer as the opportunity to see beauty where you once overlooked it, pride in the strength of your family and how they handle cancer, and incredible humility in the fact that so many wonderful people are praying for you.
You see cancer for its opportunities – to stay strong and faithful. You see cancer and you laugh because it is so ridiculous. From the flashing of my port to the explaining of my digestive habits – it is just funny. Who else but me would be so blunt and open – it’s like giving your kids that first talk about where babies come from, they look at you and say “I came out of where? Oh my gosh mom – no more info!”
I am doing OK. I have tremendous hope and faith for a future, however long that may be. Yes I’m uncomfortable, but so many others are in so much more discomfort than me. If I can do this, anyone can. Let the little things go and focus on the big things. By the way, they are all little things. Bad things happen to good people, but if you look at it from a different angle – was it really that bad?
My life has been fabulous and I have been so blessed. My husband is an incredible man who is accepting this terminal diagnosis with grace and strength. I would love for someone to video how I am working on getting my family self-reliant. They are pretty funny – my husband just figured out where we keep most items in the kitchen and he ALMOST has our grocery store mastered. Let’s be honest though, I send pictures of items he is to buy and what isle they are located on. Still he is down to one or two phone calls a trip. Best advice I ever gave him – ask another mom shopping with children she will be able to tell you exactly where to locate anything and where the nearest restroom is located.
This past week took me back to the doctor for round 6 of chemo and poison pills……………..so much to discuss with my Dr. I am not sure that I can handle another round like that last one………..but I WILL handle it; because I look at my children and I know they need me and that gives me strength and courage.
A New Year’s Resolution?
Look at whatever is happening in your life from a different viewpoint – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s all going to be ok, whatever the outcome, because you must believe there is a reason for the pain, the happiness, and the struggles. For me, I experience my life, my family and the world around me at an intensity that I never imagined and it’s all good. I believe God has this and everything will be ok.
Note from the SHE Files: “Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.”
**Please note, I have not named our guest blogger per her request, as she prefers our readers to focus on the message and the lessons in her journey and not on the person.