grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

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

on July 16, 2015

{Christmas in July?
Hey, if Amazon Prime can do it, I figure I can, too. *grin}

I woke up this morning with a heavy heart.
My eyes flooded with tears.
My breath coming in shallow gasps.
It was sadness that ducked and weaved and scattered and morphed as I tried to identify it. To corral it. To name it so I could make some sense of it.

Some days, even almost five-years-to-the-day out, the grieving takes me by surprise like that.
And, today, mixed in with the Cancer Stuff, was all kinds of other Stuff.
Older stuff.
Newer stuff.
Life Stuff.

So instead of trying to dismiss or numb those weighty, dodgy feelings with activity or food or television or one of the good books I’m currently reading, I decided that I would allow them space today.
Acknowledge them.
Feel them.
Honor them.

I’ll admit that, for one is who is usually quick to downplay and minimize the darker emotions (like sadness, sorrow, anger, loneliness, despair) so as not to be ‘a bother’ or ‘a downer’, deciding to sit with those feelings seemed a bit scary.
I mean, what if I started allowing them and then couldn’t stop?!
There were things on my To Do List, after all.

But I did it.
I sat with them.
And a box of tissue.

Now, as I take a deep breath, attempt to settle my spirit a bit, I’m happy to report I’ve survived this bit of processing today.
And re-reading the following update from my CaringBridge journal has given me just the perspective I need to let today just be what it’s been.
Kind of weepy.
Kind of rough.
Kind of raw.
But I can celebrate anyway.
Because, even though the grieving isn’t easy, it’s part of this journey.
Even today.
And being here at all is definitely something to celebrate.


December 4, 2012
As the Christmas Season approaches, the thought of celebrating comes easy, doesn’t it? Celebrating with friends, family, co-workers, fellow church members, schoolmates, teammates — you know, everyone who ranks as special in our lives. Celebrating by sharing meals, coffee dates, potlucks, parties. Celebrating with the exchange of gifts, cards, newsy letters, Secret Santa giftings, plates of baked goods. Celebrating by spreading the joy via warm toddies, hot chocolate, spiced cider, and maybe even mulled wine, if that’s what strikes your fancy.

What a wonderful time of the year! It’s pretty easy to get lost in a celebratory mood with all those warm, loving, fuzzy, sparkly, shiny, cuddly people, things, and events facing us at almost every turn. How very many happy, brilliant, incredibly rich blessings we have to celebrate! They come bubbling up from the depths of our hearts to burst into glittery thoughts and experiences that only add to the shimmery glow that can seem to envelop the minutes, days, and weeks that make up the final months of the year.

Today, as I was thinking about all of this merry wonderment, and remembering that tomorrow (Wednesday), I have several cancer-related appointments starting first thing in the morning, the phrase ‘Celebrate anyway’ fluttered to the front of my thoughts. Trying to figure out where it came from as I drove to and fro, picking up and depositing my teenagers hither and yon, it occurred to me that maybe God was trying to plant a Very Important Truth in my heart.
Celebrate anyway.

The appointments tomorrow are to test my heart (again) to make sure that the chemo drugs that were part of my treatment over a year ago didn’t damage it and to scan me head-to-toe to ascertain that there is currently No Evidence of Disease anywhere in these cells of mine. I will also be ‘donating’ several vials of blood so that the lab can run a slew of tests to check for certain cancer markers and proper levels of all those things that keep one healthy. These tests and scans are all part of the package deal you get when you become a Cancer Survivor. So, in and of themselves, they are run-of-the-mill, standard, just-to-be-sure kinds of things. No big whoop. Right?

That’s where it gets a little dicey. You see, when you have already had one run-of-the-mill, standard screening shove you right in the path of the oncoming Cancer Train, it turns out that any test that has the potential to plant its hands on your shoulders in order to shove you back onto the tracks also has the power to usher the unwanted trio of Fear, Worry, & Doubt to the front of the line that is your Thought Life. Not cool. As calm and collected as you try to be – as normal as you work to make the days leading up to such tests – as faithful as you can make each prayer that drifts upward from your lips, the prospect of undergoing these tests is unsettling at best.

So as the thoughts of my impending appointments came, closely followed by a complete and detailed list of ‘What ifs’, I have to admit I was a bit taken aback by the phrase ‘Celebrate anyway’ as it introduced itself. Was I being told to celebrate anyway, even if the tests show something abnormal? Panic and disbelief jockeyed for position within my spirit. And then, miraculously, I felt my heart – and my nervy stomach – settle down. Calm overtook the ‘What ifs’. And I breathed a deep breath that made me conscious of the fact that I had been breathing awfully shallowly up to that point in time.

Celebrate anyway.

As I’ve had moments here and there since that phrase arrived on the scene to do my best to grasp it, to pull it apart, to see how it might fit with the schedule that’s facing me tomorrow, it seems to be a pretty powerful little phrase.

Celebrate anyway.

If any one of those tests come back with a result that is anything but stellar, celebrate anyway.

If these tests are another line of demarcation on the timeline of my life, celebrate anyway.

I’ve discovered that it’s not only powerful, but also sort of universal.

Celebrate anyway.

If the holidays have you stressed out about money, gift-giving, party-attending, and the like, celebrate anyway.

If the relationships in your life aren’t all you yearn for them to be, celebrate anyway.

If you look around your home and see all kinds of things that cause you to feel overwhelmed, celebrate anyway.

If your job leaves you feeling more stressed and drained than relaxed and fulfilled, celebrate anyway.

I think that’s what the whole Sacrifice of Praise thing mentioned in Hebrews 13 is all about: Celebrating when everything inside of you feels like doing just the opposite. Dancing and making merry when the world tells you that you should be down and dumpy, given the state of (fill in the blank). Throwing a party for no ‘good reason’ other than that you’re alive, wildly loved, and held firmly in the hand of the One whose faithfulness knows no end.

Don’t get me wrong — I will take any and all prayers offered up on my behalf for good results tomorrow. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!!) I am believing that everything is going to be ok. That I am going to come out all cancer-free and healthy.

But, I’m also ready to accept whatever God has in store for me.
And to celebrate anyway.

Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the gods. So let us celebrate the struggle! ~ Stevie Wonder

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. ~ Oprah Winfrey


3 responses to “July 2010 – July 2015 :: A Cancer Survivor’s Retrospective :: Day Sixteen

  1. Susie Huwe says:

    Thank you for your transparency Laura…you are such a woman of courage, and good example of what true honesty looks like 😀! Thx for sharing you!

  2. […] July 2010 – July 2015 :: A Cancer Survivor’s Retrospective :: Day Sixteen Jul […]

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