grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

July 2010 – July 2015 :: A Cancer Survivor’s Retrospective :: Day Nine

on July 9, 2015

It’s a weird, cool, crazy, amazing thing, isn’t it?
It slips through our fingers.
It drags agonizingly by.
It stands still.
And I know I can’t be the only one who can look back five years and wonder, ‘Where the heck did the time go? How have FIVE YEARS passed by so quickly?’

This post from my CaringBridge journal was written about 15 months after my diagnosis, and I am humbled to think of all the changes and growth God has gently coaxed out of me since then.
Can you relate?
When you look back five years, do you see where and how God has allowed circumstances and people and the day-to-day to shape, stretch, mold, change, and grow you?
If not, can you sit with the memories – practicing the Discipline of Remembering – and begin to notice?
Even when what you and I see in that rearview mirror reminds us of how hard or painful or simply uncomfortable some of it was, what say we toss up a prayer or two of gratitude?
Because, to paraphrase Joyce Meyer, we may not be where we need to be, but we can thank God that we’re not where we used to be.


Oct 20, 2011
I think it’s about T.I.M.E. for me to fill you in on some of the too-many-to-mention happenings in and around the New Normal of my life. After all, you have been so faithful in your care and concern, love and prayers, support and encouragement! And sharing info via this journal is one way I can think of to honor those gifts you’ve so graciously given Stan, the girls, and me.

T – Tenacity, Trust, Thankfulness, Togetherness, Tenderness, Transcendence: In just a little over 3 weeks, one whole year will have passed since my first chemo infusion. Two days before that notorious (and victorious!) anniversary, I will complete the 28-week-long stint on the study chemo drug, Lapatinib. To have been strong enough physically and mentally to withstand the front-, back-, and side-effects of almost 52 weeks of life-saving ‘poison’ has taken a tenacity that I had absolutely no idea I possessed. The amount of trust I have been able to muster and place in my Heavenly Father has strengthened me, body and soul – even on those days when I still find myself in a bit of shock that I was on the receiving end of a cancer diagnosis. As Stan and the girls and I prepare to spend this upcoming weekend road-tripping to Minneapolis, the thankfulness which fills my heart when I think of the deep togetherness this pink-ribboned trial has brought is a gift that I haven’t minded too much in the unwrapping. There continue to be several areas, physical and emotional, in which I am experiencing tenderness. As I allow the tears to flow over those areas, I am overwhelmed by the personal ways that God chooses to gently wrap my brokenness. When I went back to work full time at the end of August, I worried a lot about how my energy level and stamina would hold up, but God has blessed me with transcendence in those areas that can really only be supernatural in nature. I love being back amidst the craziness that working with 3- and 4-year olds brings!

I – Inspiration, Introspection, Interesting, Intangible, Imperfect: The gift of inspiration so freely given to me by my beautiful fellow survivors brings tears of joy to my eyes and a big smile to face. Spending time with them, either formally at the support groups I attend or more casually at work or out for coffee, has been something I feel blessed to do fairly frequently. Lately, I have found myself experiencing deeper levels of introspection as I try to make sense of the many losses that have come along this unpredictable path. One thing that has been most interesting to me has been the fact that the loss of some friendships during a battle with cancer is merely touched upon in the literature one is showered with shortly after diagnosis. The losses and grieving (and grace) that I have personally experienced in that arena have a pull on my heart that I have yet to fully explore. I pray for the courage to delve more deeply into that subject someday soon. All of the intangibles of these last many weeks simply boggle my mind – at the top of the list are the things I mentioned in my opening: the care and concern, love and prayers, support and encouragement Stan, the girls, and I have received from each of you. I can count the gifts, cards, meals, and the like; but how does one begin to quantify things like love? and prayers? I’m thankful for it all, but I must admit that the intangibles are what bolster my flagging spirit on the days that seem dark. When I look at my scars, I am struck by how imperfect this life is. And how that imperfection can, and must, draw our hearts and minds toward Heaven, our True Home. Even after my reconstruction surgeries (which I am tentatively planning for this coming summer), there will be reminders and remainders of this battle – marks of the valor I’ve borrowed from my fellow survivors and my Savior.

M – Magical, Miraculous, Mundane, Mindfulness, Moving: We spent some magical time at Tom and Dolores’ lake cabin this summer – more than we have in the last several years. It was wonderful and we are so grateful for their generosity in welcoming us there. Even though I officially stopped covering my bald-ish head at Sammi’s graduation, the growth of my new hair and brows and lashes is truly miraculous to me! Especially when I catch a glimpse of the curls – something I am finding myself getting more and more accustomed to with each passing day! 😉 Each day, I discover another previously mundane thing that now prompts a bubble of joy to float up in my spirit….who knew that cancer, chemo, and the chaos of this battle would give me new eyes with which to view laundry, meal times, stop lights, and changing leaves?! This new level of mindfulness is something I pray to retain as time passes. To savor and cherish each and every day. As we’ve watched our new home being built from the ground up, we’ve been so blessed to have been so welcomed at Cherri and Larry’s. It can’t have been easy for them to open their home to a family of five that includes three teenaged girls and a dog! They have been more than gracious these last 2+ months and the best gift I can think of at the moment to give them as a token of our appreciation is to be able to let them know the exact date we’ll be moving! 🙂 (The builder has told Stan that November 1 is the new target date!)

E – Emotional, Extremes, Endurance, Exhausted, Excited: I think I’ve alluded to how emotional this whole journey has been already. It has been a road of high highs and low lows and some milder, quiet level places. The extremes of it all have taken me by surprise and not shocked me a bit almost simultaneously. As I stepped off the elevator on the 7th floor last week to get my chemo port flushed (something I’ve had to do every 6 or so weeks since the middle of March), I was struck by the sounds and smells to the point that, when I got back to my car, I sat and cried – for all that I’ve been through since last July, for all that I count as gain as well as loss, for my friend who passed away August 21. Getting my port flushed had never really been more than an item on my To Do List before. Then there are the days that many of the 24 hours go by before I even remember that I am fighting cancer. Weird, huh? I think it speaks to how long our brains take to process such things. Endurance is something I am learning that I have possessed for much of my life, without really being aware of it or naming it. If you look at your own life, I’m sure you’d find that you’ve come up against plenty that you, too, have endured. The resiliency of the human spirit is amazing to me – the long-suffering the Bible speaks of seems to be something most of us only need to acknowledge or, at most, fine tune, within ourselves. And, even though most days I am exhausted beyond words, it’s a peaceful, grateful tired. (Ok, bone tired.) I got a new boob (and 4 new bras) today! I was so excited, because being back in that fitting room at Great Plains Rehab meant I was over a year into my survivorship! And, to me, that is a pretty big deal!

In the happy moments, praise God.
In the difficult moments, seek God.
In the quiet moments, trust God.
In every moment, thank God.


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