Some days, the journey feels long. And it is. But every day is a little bit closer. Some days, it’s definitely a whole lot harder. But, one thing is for sure. There isn’t a single day that I think of giving up. NEVER. I will give this cancer thing, this chemo thing, these surgeries, and this radiation business everything I’ve got. If it takes every last bit of courage and fight I’ve got in me… I’ll never stop swingin.
Just a few days ago, I took my beanie off and looked at myself in the mirror, and I realized something.
I’M ALREADY A SURVIVOR.
I’m still fighting, we still have cells to attack, and much more treatment to go, but…
MY LUMP IS GONE. THE CANCEROUS LYMPHNODES WERE REMOVED AS WELL.
It’s a darn good thing, because I’m needing a little warrior push through this last stretch of radiation.
IT’S GETTIN’ REAL UP IN HERE:
Each week, radiation side effects are delayed by one week. For example, whatever burns I feel today, are actually those of my treatments from last week. This week, I’m purple and brownish and a bit blistery where my lymph nodes were removed under the arm. So I’m not too ecstatic about next week’s treatment. However, to thank God for small victories, on Tuesday we move into the final phase of Radiation for my last 6 treatments to be localized on my long surgical site vs. the whole top right quadrant of my torso and right under arm. That’s good! Big relief, so that I can heal the skin on those other areas at least. Gotta get a break somewhere.
Every phase of treatment has its own hurdles and has its climactic moment or wall where you need to dig your deepest to push through. Right now, I find myself facing that wall. During the days and middle of the night “tossing and turning” hours, I continue to sing my usual Marley “3 Little Birds” as I skim over the lists of intentions sent over to me, keeping my mind focused outward rather than spiraling inward and tearing me up over the discomfort and feeling in my body that I can do nothing about anyway. So, again, I remind you, keep the intentions coming. They help me more than you know. Hopefully the mutual prayers and offerings are bringing some graces your way as well. Tag team, right?
But then my alarm goes off every morning, At least the second one (After the 6am “Rise and shine, let’s get the Kids up and to school on time”- alarm). Just after the kids are off to school. “Time to get ready for radiation… appointment begins @ 9:40am”. The past few days, my excitement to be fun and cheesy and post a goofy pic in a new t-shirt has been waning a bit as the hot skin and sticky lotion underneath have just begun to stick to pretty much everything i wear anyway. Kinda sucks the fun right out.
So what to do?
Well… I figure, I’d look to our soldiers. What do those dudes do? What do they do when they fight the toughest of battles in the worst of conditions, hot and sweaty in their uniforms, hungry, wounded, boots stuck on for days, etc. They dig deep. They persevere. No surrender. They remember the greater good and they press on, pain or no pain, they push.
A friend of mine who was trained in the MARINES, is now a personal trainer and gym owner, mother of 4 with twins on the way (talk about TOUGH!)….shared this with me:
THE MARINE MOTTO:
SO, then, here I go.
I’m switching into HIGH GEAR!
Funny. I sent out a message on my TEAM BUNA Facebook page asking for prayers as I switched into “Warrior-Beast Mode” and was so thankful for all the prayers and support that I was given so instantly from all over. So touched that this “Beast” that grew up as such the tough tomboy with her big brothers … that she laid on that Radiation table and was left alone as the techs left the room to go look at the computers while the machines rotated around as usual to scan my body… tears welled up in my eyes. Yup. The girl that HATES to cry in front of people was stuck, having to remain motionless with her head turned to the left and arms above her head, holding on to two metal handles on a table, while tears filled her eyes and one by one, spilled over my nose and over to her left ear. As the techs returned, surprised to see the “always joking patient” quiet and humbly asking to have her face wiped since she can’t move, the normal comedic tone of the room changed a little, they had never seen me down. I naturally found something sarcastic to say, or bad pun to pull up (complete with a rimshot sound effect of my own here and there for good measure), … but I also didn’t mind the quiet.
Where did the tears come from? Honestly, they started at first while I was gritting my teeth and cursing under my breath because the blistering burn near my lymph nodes had just really gotten to me that morning. The thought of having to touch it for treatment required me to psyche myself out more than I ever had before, but I still, didn’t actually cry. I can handle pain without tears, just a lot of teeth gritting. But, to see the amount of people so quickly ready to pray for me and to lay on that table, so still and helpless, listening to the Christian station that they had playing … made me realize how out of control I was and how in control God was.
It was a moment of surrender.
But wait, a soldier never surrenders! I was a beast. I was a warrior. No surrender! No white Flags!
I went in like a BEAST, and I remained a BEAST … and a WARRIOR. To remain a beast and warrior, this was the one sort of surrender, the one and only white flag that is of the utmost importance and totally essential. I realized my strength was not my own. My strength, if I want to keep making it through this, cannot come from just my own “positive thoughts” or my own “strong will”. I don’t “have what it takes”. But God does. Thank, God! (pun intended) I’m a 36 year old mama of 5 who was just as tired and frazzled as every other mother before I was diagnosed with any of this breast cancer junk, and I’m just as tired now. But somehow, I feel more grateful, trusting, and hopeful than ever before. Even when my skin and body hurt more than ever, and I’m grumbling my way through hitting the silent button on my alarm to get ready for my appointment. I’m hopeful. It may take a moment before I’m smiley, but I always have joy. Joy is something deeper than a feeling. Joy is a gift deep within. It can’t be rocked from something as surface level as an alarm clock or even pain for that matter. Even when I look ahead and see that my road is still very long…. joy and hope remains. They’re even there when my head itches from my hair growing back and am soo darn ready to ditch my beanies, yet have a sinking fear that when I do, people may think my head looks like a CHIA PET!
(And if they do… I’ll just slap on a new badge of COURAGE… cuz mama don’t care. It’s getting HOT, and mama don’t got time for anything on my head any more!)
in all this… I surrender. I surrender it all to the big guy. He knows better than me. He has me so well taken care of. And in moments like this when I feel like my whole body, my hair, my skin, my insides and out are so far out of my control and all I can do is show up to these Radiation appointments and lay there, perfectly still, in my gown… arms surrendered over my head… reaching for the Big Guy. What have I got to lose?
Thank you for reaching with me. Thank you for supporting us in prayer and support in so many ways.
Thank you for being our Army, Navy, and Marine support behind us.
As I mentioned on TEAM BUNA FACEBOOK page …
I’ll never claim to compare myself to, or be anywhere near as cool as those who have dedicated their life to protect us in the armed services. However, I thank them for the example and role model they’ve set for me and for all of us to know how to press on when up against obstacles and keep your eye on the greater good, working and striving, and living for those you love. They weren’t born superheroes, yet they live like them and expect nothing less from themselves. That’s what makes them heroes. I would never dare to link myself personally to the title hero, I’ll reserve that for those fighters, yet the following words definitely gives me something to live for. Christopher Reeves said it best in this next quote. Since I saw it, I read it daily, especially on my most painful nights and mornings, allowing it to drive me to push, push, push during this last stretch.
Because God knows I am an ordinary little mama up against a not so ordinary challenge, yet I know that so many before me have fought this battle and have kicked its butt. They were ordinary people who never gave up. They are my heroes of all ages: Small children in our community are fighting, have fought, and totally beat out cancer, all the way to the spunky elderly that I see every day at Mary Bird Perkins dressed from head to toe in sequins and smiles at their daily infusions, or other past survivors who pay it forward and come back to volunteer. Now they’ve set the bar.
Now with all of these examples of warriors, and all of this support in prayer behind me, I may shed a tear or two, but it won’t be from sadness, and it won’t be because I’ve lost my “Beast-mode”;rather, it will be my full surrender to my trust in God, my faith and trust in my medical team, & from the pride and strength I have in the warriors battling with me, supporting my family and giving us the grace to press through the “cancer enemy lines”!
As I bust through that wall in “warrior-beast-mode-over-drive”, I’ll be screaming (For any of you “Fried Green Tomatoes” fans)…
But… hey, “no worries”, right? It’s gonna be alright! 😉