On a regular basis, now that my youngest is in school three days a week, and it seems to many that my cancer journey is behind me, what seems to come to most people’s mind to ask is,
“What are you going to do with yourself now?” (Normally asked with witty banter, winks and pats on my back before, during, and after, while I take a deep breath and reply….)
“EVERYTHING! All the things I haven’t done in the past 13 years of parenting. I have a lot of laundry. ” (Insert more witty banter and laughter before I saunter off thinking of all the other things that are included on that list of my still HAVE TOs like monthly infusions, monthly injections, weekly blood draws and the never ending doc appointments (sometimes same docs, sometimes new specialists…), normal mom-stuff like grocery shopping, cooking, and laundry… laundry… LAUNDRY, and seeking and carrying out new adventures in health and work opportunities to quench my thirst for taking care of my family. My mind REELS with all of the things I want to do right now and all of the things that I haven’t done in so long as this is my first time in a long time that I haven’t been pregnant, nursing, have a toddler at home every day, or at WEEKLY chemo appointments vs. my current monthly maintenance infusion plan. So many thoughts that sometimes, I get nowhere. And honestly, I don’t know where to start first. So, much like the image up top…. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING… just yet, but
I’VE NEVER FELT SO INSPIRED IN MY LIFE TO LIVE MY LIFE TO ITS FULLEST, TAKE MY LIFE EACH DAY BY STORM, AND LIVE, LOVE, AND LAUGH AS MUCH AS I CAN EACH DAY.
It occurred to me these past few months that I’ve been in some major grieving and mourning over my old life. My old body. My old hair. My old schedule. My old routines. My old NON-MEDICATED, NON-DOC APPOINTMENT NEEDING (although, if I have to go to doc appointments, I happen to have the BEST EVER!!) , NON-SCAN NEEDING, NON-SCAN NEEDING, NON-DAILY HANDING ANY FEARS OF FUTURE RECURRENCES OF CANCER COMING BACK TO ME OR POPPING UP TO MY FAMILY OVER TO GOD EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. …., MY OLD ACTIVE SELF THAT COULD DO SO MUCH SO EASILY AND NOT NEED TO FIGHT FOR EVERYTHING.
Honestly, I’ve been having a pity party and didn’t even realize it. It’s ok. I think I’ve needed it. I’ve been quite the gung-ho positive cheerleader for me, my family, and every one else in the world throughout most of my life, especially the past three years. I’ve still been waking up each day and actively choosing to fight for every moment and opportunity to seize every day with my family, dance and laugh … and travel with friends and loved ones. I make the most of everything, no matter how I feel. Why? Because… well… to answer the next question on most people’s minds (after the previously mentioned one above):
“You look like you’re sure feeling good. Do you feel as great as you seem?!” (asked with big smile and hopeful nodding for a thoroughly positive answer)
Sigh. Another loaded question that I’ve tossed and turned many of my insomnia-filled nights to answer. Seems simple. And yes, I’m boppin’ around with my kids at the pool, the beach, road tripping’ across the country, at every school function, dancing like a fool and makin’ goofy videos just to lighten everybody’s mood on Facebook and with my husband on Staycations in NOLA. But after a few very needed conversations this summer with new and old friends who are also “lifers” (a new term I heard for those of us with the indefinite schedule of maintenance infusions or what have you for a life-long disease), it finally really sunk in. I ‘ve said it before, but it really hit me. I don’t have to FEEL GOOD to look and act joyful and seize my day. Just because you see me on a dance floor or on a beach with a big fat smile on my face, it’s not necessarily because I FEEL oh so good. Rather, it’s because that activity MAKES me happy. Being there, doing whatever the crazy thing is that I’m doing, or being with the people I’m with MAKES me FEEL GOOD.
I could sit on my couch all day and assess all the parts of my body that don’t feel the same anymore, and may never feel quite the same again. I will surely do EVERYTHING IN MY POWER to find my healthiest self again and to stay active. However, no matter how I feel, I have to look at each day like I did with each part of my treatment and ask myself a few questions:
- What’s my treatment plan for ME today?
- What do I want more than anything today?
- What do I want to fight for today?
- Is that going to be worth it at the end of the day to have gotten out there and seized it?
The truth is, I have NO DESIRE to every have to go through all the aggressive chemo treatments, radiation, and surgeries again, but when I was… I had a plan. It was like I had been drafted for a war to be soldier when I’d never asked to be in it. But, it turned out that I was a damn good fighter. I happen to be the soldier you’d want on the front lines. It’s odd for me to say something so confidently about myself. But, when I’m fighting like that, I found a strength inside me that I had never known before. I found a confidence, a freedom, and a trust in GOD that I had never been able to surrender to before. I felt unstoppable. When I was sent home from my war to my current battlefield with my “maintenance plan” that now currently keeps a busy schedule but doesn’t have nearly the same daunting fighting needs as before… I have felt a little lost. I’m like a soldier, but not really. I’m doing boot camp over and over again on an army base but not at war, even though I’ve been to war twice, and although I hate being there…. it’s all I really know how to do now. It’s what I feel best at. So weird.
When they slapped that big “FOREVER” stamp on my file and said I’d never get remission, but told me that it’s ok. I gotta be so grateful because this allows me to live my normal life, just with “invisible cancer” (such a weird phrase) that we keep at bay with my monthly infusions and injections to help prevent my high possibility of another recurrence after having stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Ummmmm… that doesn’t sound normal?
Thus began my pity party. But as I’ve been so surrounded and immersed in this cancer world, I see how grateful I am to have this life long plan. I am a LIFER. Key word being LIFE. They’ve given me an option to stay in my fight. And now an opportunity to take back my life as I’ve come to know it now and seek new adventures in health, work, my new schedule with no kids at home a few days a week, and all the things I haven’t done in so long.
So, I may not know exactly what my TREATMENT plan is for my whole life. They say forever, but that’s really all relative. Because they don’t know about the dude that I’m praying for. I keep my HOPE high in imagining a dorky little guy that is crazy smart, lives in his mom’s basement, and has his very own laboratory down there. While he eats his mom’s meatloaf, He works hard on my FOREVER cure that WILL GIVE ME TOTAL REMISSION. They have told me it own’t happen. But I say, that NO ONE KNOWS THE FUTURE. We can only live in the present. We can only know about today. And today, no matter how I’m feeling… I’m fighting to LIVE MY LIFE AS BEST AS I CAN.
Ya know what, just as we came into this world, we all must leave this world one day, too. It’s no big secret. And when I do. I hope I leave this world LAUGHING. (And if I could add surrounded by my fave people and family on a dance floor, that’d be reeeeeally awesome, too! )
When we cast our cares upon the LORD, as I often bring up in PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7, I feel the Marley song come on, “Every little thing’s gonna be alright.” Why? Not because I think everything is owed to me that I planned. My life is not going as I planned. I had to get over that, in fact, I ask you all to pray for me as I daily hand it over to God and work on getting OVER IT. Whether we live out lives exactly as we thought, or if our lives are taken away from us in one way or another. If we hand it all to the BIG GUY, it really will BE ALRIGHT. He sees and knows waaaaayyy more than we do. Thank God! (pun intended!)
Although I may not know what in the world I’m doing, HE DOES. I’m so glad the buck doesn’t stop with me. Or else me, and my 5 kiddos sure wouldn’t be here. Heck, I have a hard time making a decision at a restaurant with a big menu. I need help. And He’s never let me down, even when I don’t stop to notice he’s there.
I’ll leave ya with this one… it was in a reading at church recently. I’ll summarize in my best BUNA style.
Elijah went out to the mount tops and stepped out to ask for God to show him a sign that He was there. To speak to him. He listened for a crash of thunder, a flash of lighting, some major sign… but after a while, all he heard was a soft whisper of wind from inside his cave. That’s when he realized that God was in the whisper.
It was explained to me that we can only hear a whisper from someone who is very near. If we quiet all of our pity parties, stop searching for the HUGE signs/wonders/miracles, we can see/hear/feel God in the every day whispers right near us. I may have had to go through cancer twice. I may not get a full remission. I may have to do this for a long time. But, God has taken care of me and my family all along the way. EVERY LITTLE THING HAS BEEN ALRIGHT. It hasn’t been the miracle that we looked for. But the love that we’ve felt, the doctors that we’ve found, the community that has supported us has been out of this world. It’s as if someone bigger (out of this world) has been whispering in our ears all along. He’s with us. And although my current treatment can feel monotonous and confusing… He hasn’t stopped working and doing big things in us. I can see now that He’s giving me opportunities now to seize the day even more than I could before and is BLESSING me with a maintenance plan that allows me to fight for the life that I so desperately want to live. I pray to dance on the dance floors of my children’s wedding receptions (it’s a long way off, but I WANT that… I BEG Him for that every day), But in the meantime, I enjoy the little things and soak up all that I can TODAY.
God is whispering in my ear to live for TODAY. Take today by storm. Hug my loved ones and thank HIM that I woke up to another gorgeous day. I am allowed to grieve, I am allowed to fuss, but even when I’m upset, I can even thank HIM that I’m here to make the fuss! Ha! That’s a tough one.
Y’all I took all my own notes from earlier this summer and took the trips, ATE THE ICE CREAM, and kicked off my shoes. So much so that my pants don’t fit! Yikes! (Add that to my list of things I gotta do! Fit in the pants. Working on it)
It was all so worth it. I made memories this summer. I didn’t have to travel to do it, but I did. I can make memories right here, and that what I’m doing now. This is my FIGHT BLOG… and (cheesy, I know) but I’m taking back my life.
Enjoy yours. Live TODAY.
And thank you for keeping me and my family always in your prayers. It’s a two-way street, you pray for me… I pray for you. Deal?
God bless you all!