cancer sucks. it just does. the diagnosis took something from me, but i didn’t realize it until i was through with treatment, and i had to have a check up. that’s when i knew.
life is different now.
life will have a cloud. an unknown. the unknown is there for everyone, but i now know mine by name and have a standing yearly appointment to find out if it is back. this is when i realized cancer had taken my invincibility away. now, being invincible is a myth. we all are moving closer to the end daily, but i was young and still blissfully ignoring the truth of death, age, the end. i can’t ignore it anymore.
i believe i’m working my way through the five stages of grief. i’ve been grieving the girl i was. the girl that had a false control over her future life and plans. i think i’ve been doing this from the day i received my diagnosis.
the first step for me came in the form of bargaining. i unconsciously made a deal with God. i’d walk cancer as a good work set before me before the creation of the world. i know God did not and does not give me or anyone else cancer, but i believe in every situation i face in life i have two choices: live for myself or live for the glory of God. the first option will only lead me to anger, heartbreak, loneliness, isolation. (i say this out of having to make this choice when my mother walked through cancer, when our poor financial decisions led to foreclosure and bankruptcy, when my boobah went to prison for two years after a bad choice) when my diagnosis came i wasn’t new to heartache or choosing God. i knew my choice of His glory would leave me alive, peace-filled, aware of His love, open to sharing His love with others. this was an easy choice. i just didn’t know i had put a contingency onto my choosing God. but, i did. i didn’t realize i had made a deal to walk cancer well IF He promised it would never happen again. i didn’t know this bargain was on the table until six months after chemo. that was my first scheduled colonoscopy. and, there it was, the doctor found a fast-growing pre-cancerous polyp that was ready to do it’s thing. i was angry. i yelled at God. I WALKED IT WELL!!!
i know in my head God is not a god of performance-based blessing. He loves me no matter what path i choose because when He looks at me He sees His Son. but, i am a performance based person. i am hard on myself and those i love. i forgot that God is not like me. and, i was broken. i had to ask forgiveness, but it took me five months to turn back to the Lord. i never lost faith in Christ, i just did not want to talk to Him.
i have to fill in a time gap between finishing chemo and my first checkup. for the eight months between, i lived in the beautiful state of denial. i finished chemo and immediately hit the gym. it was over. it was behind me. no more cancer girl. i was free, and i was a total chemo rockstar. i missed a doctor’s appointment during this time because i couldn’t stand the chemo smell in the lobby. i could taste the stuff as soon as i walked in the door. i was well. goodbye. it was not nice knowin’ ya. my denial hit the wall quick and hard when i heard the doctor recommend the removal of my colon and my uterus because the pre-cancerous polyp was there so soon after treatment.
like i said, i was angry. i tried to go back into denial, but life wouldn’t let me. everything and everyone pushed my brain back to the unknown. i started getting judgmental of the girls i worked out with when they complained about a sliver of fat that bothered them while i was there to fight off cancer. i slipped into a depression. i quit exercising. i began needing clear expectations for things like bible studies and organized activities. i sought control through schedules, and i had little sympathy for friends that wanted to share common, every day struggles. the conversations felt empty to me, and i started asking myself WHAT IS THE POINT? i lost relationships because i was rigid. i was sad. i was grieving, but i didn’t know that at the time. i lost my joy. i lost myself. i missed the old me, but she didn’t exist any more.
all of this has been my truth for the last two years. TWO YEARS i’ve lost.
but, i’ve also found some things. i’ve found healthy boundaries with a few toxic relationships because there is no time in my life for people who don’t want to accept responsibility. i’ve learned how to say i’m sorry. i’ve had lots of practice, and i’m really good at it. i’ve learned that people, schedules, community can’t give me comfort. i’ve realized i have no control except for my reaction.
i can stop isolating. i can get help. i can trust the Lord with my future, cancer or no cancer. i am accepting my limits. i am accepting growing older, the idea of not being here forever. i accept i can’t know the future, and i accept i can’t change it if i could.
God has been with me every step of the way… pouring truth over me through jonesy, through relationships (both good and bad), through counseling, and through medication. i’m coming out of grief. i’ve missed my joy. i’ve missed being confident in how i am made and in WHO made me. i’ve missed quiet in my brain. it’s been too loud for too long. fear is noisy and very draining.
BUT GOD. my prayer is simple.
i need more of you and less of me. bring back the gift of joy. bring back the gift of being awake, present in my own life. i confess i’ve wasted time on worry, doubt, anger, fear, rejection. please forgive my wandering heart. i’m finished. i want to celebrate who i am. I AM CANCER FREE. I WILL HAVE TOMORROW. I AM LOVED. those things are enough to satisfy.
i am a new girl… older, wiser.
i am ready to let go and accept truth.
He’s not finished with me and He will always hold me.
i am a girl with HOPE.