Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I hate cancer.

Yep. I hate cancer. In fact, if there was an "I hate cancer" club, I would sooooo be the president. Eleven months ago, we heard those words that nobody wants to hear. Stephen was very awake when he heard those words. However, I was in a drug-induced fog. I remember trying to bring myself into an alert mode, but failing miserably for several hours. God has truly performed many miracles in the past months. With those miracles, have come some very hard lessons.
Frequently, my children are forced to listen to two of my favorite songs. Songs that probably wouldn't be on my iPod if we had not traveled along the cancer road. Martina McBride singing "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" and Rascal Flatts singing "I Won't Let Go" are my go-to songs when I'm thinking about my cancer friends.
Now, disclaimer here, there was a lot of good that came from this experience. God can bring good out of anything.
One of the blessings of my journey was that God helped me focus on the positive moments of each day. There were many times that I didn't realize exactly how sick I really was. Over the past couple of months, I've spent a lot of time reflecting. Reflecting has reminded me of God's faithfulness and blessings. It also reminds me of how ugly cancer is.
Cancer is just that. Ugly. There's nothing pretty or pleasant about it. Here are just a few of the things I learned.
One of the lessons I've learned as a cancer patient/survivor, is that from the second they utter that dreaded phrase, "You have cancer," there is no going back. You are no longer the same. A series of events unfolds that will change you forever. Some change is good. Some change is bad. Some change is just...change, neither good or bad. People pray for cancer patients. Family and friends show support and express encouragement. However, I feel different and sometimes struggle to see where I "fit." My thinking is different and often doesn't match up with anyone around me. I struggle to find someone who understands and often am moved to tears when I read a caring bridge entry or e-mail authored by a fellow cancer warrior. The tears don't come necessarily because of grief or sadness, but from a sense of relief. It is comforting that somebody else is out there having the same thoughts and feelings I've had. At least if I'm crazy, then I have company.
Guilt. There is guilt that comes from surviving. Oh, I am so grateful to have each day as a mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt...but some very dark moments come. Those moments flood my soul with guilt as I think of the others who fought so much more bravely than me, yet cancer stole their life. Those precious young husbands with young children who lost their courageous wife. I know God has a plan. His plan is perfect. My belief in that does not stop the attacks from satan. This is just one attack that he knows will get to me. The children that I came to know and love along this journey. Watching as they fight and the very life slips from their earthly body...I guess that's been one of the hardest things. I'm a grown up. I expect to battle sickness and tragedy. Kids just shouldn't. Again, I know His plan is perfect. This is just what happens in my head. It's a roller coaster of emotions that I didn't experience in my pre-cancer life.
Missing those cancer friendships. I don't miss chemo. I don't miss radiation. I do miss being around those people who know what it's like. I miss the nurses and other medical staff who cared for me. The only thing I can figure it's close to is when a soldier returns from combat and has no one around who can understand what he went through. I'm sure my journey is nowhere close to combat, but it is comforting to be near those who know what it's like. The other patients, the nurses - they just.....know. 
I have a need for constant reassurance. I almost want to see the doctor each week and have bloodwork done, just to hear that I'm still clear. Although the odds look pretty good for me, they are still just that - odds. Nothing is for sure when it comes to cancer. No guarantees. I mean, good grief, colon cancer at the age of 34, with no family history, no genetic markers?!?! That doesn't happen often. I'm already in the 1% of cancer patients. I don't sit and worry about it all the time, but the possibility does hang out in the back of my mind.

Even though I am glad the chemo and radiation treatments are behind me, I still miss those individuals who were on the battlefield with me. The nurses, doctors, and other patients provided encouragement, support, and many times the entertainment I needed to make it through.

October is breast cancer awareness month. It's highly likely that you know and love someone who has been touched by this. Please continue to remember a special lady who is beginning her radiation treatments in a few days. If you know a survivor, wear pink for her!
I must include my prayer requests.
Sara Walker received a report from her CT scan. The chemo did not even hold the cancer stable this time. They will be trying a new treatment that is not chemo, but will hopefully stop the cancer growth. Please pray for Sara, her husband and two boys. They are such a precious family with a mighty God.

Zach Howard has had some rough days. Please continue to remember him along with his precious family  (mom, dad and sweet Kelsie.)
Please pray the Spradley and Steltenpohl families will experience the healing and comfort that only our sweet Jesus can provide.

Thank you for reading.
Much love,

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