I have never been more excited to look in the rear view mirror. On Christmas Eve I attended my last radiation appointment. There was a skeleton crew at the hospital, but those that were there celebrated with me as I rang the hallway bell signifying the end of this journey. I was presented with a rose and a certificate and a hug from the doc. And I felt accomplished. Not for creating anything, but for completing the course with my head held high, my spirit in tact and a beautiful outlook for the future ahead.
Having cancer has been an interesting experience. Sitting there day after day waiting on treatment, I had the opportunity to meet some really great women. All fighting along side of me. Some much worse than me, all with their own grace and dignity.
In the waiting area there is a quilt hanging from the wall that read:
Things Cancer Can’t Take From Me…
- Your Spirit
- Your Friends
- Your Spirituality
- Your Dreams
The list went on…but you get the idea. And the entire list was true. Even in the worst of cases, we still have choices. I’m not saying it’s always easy, and every day is a new day to choose, to decide, but for the most part, I chose to keep my positive attitude, my faith in God and His plan for my life, even as it was unfolding, and my fighting spirit.
Some days those were easy decisions. Some days those decisions were harder. I was tired, I was sick of making a drive for treatment every day; it all felt a little unfair. But most of the time, I was reflective, and appreciative. Not necessarily for being sick, but for the pause it caused in my life. It made me reflect more often on how I spent my time because when you are as tired as I was some days you have to be wise as to how you spend your energy. I found that connecting with my family and my close friends became the best use of my time. Cleaning, chores, mundane tasks, though necessary, really can wait. Connections are what are most important. And time with God. I already prayed a lot ahead of my diagnosis, but I found my prayers after to be more authentic, more conversational, lingering almost.
I decided early on to partner with God through this. Not worry so much about the “lesson” I’m supposed to learn having been through this, but to see what I was to learn while going through the journey. Each day, once my feet touched the ground, I spent a few minutes chatting with Him. And I found myself listening more. Before cancer I was always in a rush. Moving from one thing to the next. Even in prayer. These few months I slowed down a bit. I was more intentional. I feel like having experienced quiet, peace, and a little slower pace in my talks with God, I have gained something. I have gained some peace. I didn’t have any earth shattering revelations about my place in this world, other than I am known to Him, that I can say with confidence. But peace, a feeling of “settled”. I knew things were going to be okay. I would heal and regain my health and move on from this experience. I am doing so with more awareness of those around me. How my life can impact those whose paths I cross. How I can bless others even when they think noone is watching. I am thankful for the calm I feel and the awareness of others I’ve gained. And if that is all this experience was meant to teach me, I am both humbled and thankful for it.
Where to from here? On a health note, I am now free from treatment. I am considered cancer-free at this time. I will have follow ups galore in the next three months and then every quarter for at least a year. After that, probably every six months for a few years. Eventually I’ll hit that magical 5-year mark. Of that I have no doubt. On a spiritual note, I hope to hold on to the patterns I’ve created, the connections I feel with God. To continue to grow spiritually and keep prayer and time with Him as the first act I do each morning. And to listen. Just slow down and remember to listen. I think of all things, that will be the key to my growth, happiness, and lasting peace.