Today I had yet another appointment in this journey as a cancer patient. This was with my colon surgeon to discuss the next surgery which will reconnect my intestines and get my body functioning in a "normal" capacity again (what is normal anyway?). Now let me tell you about my doctors....my oncologist is straightforward, but he has a gentle spirit and always cheers me on. A normal visit begins with, "Hello sweetie, how's my rock star today?" Or, "How's my champion doing?", or "I am so thrilled with your results--I am jumping for joy." And the visits always end with, "Keep it up star patient, I am praying for you." You see, for most of his job when dealing with cancer patients, he doesn't get to give good news. When he first told me back in April that I was stage four cancer because it had spread to my liver, the news was grim. It was the first day I really cried (as well as planned to take out all our money and travel the world). Yet two weeks later he was able to tell me that he had talked with the surgeons and that with chemo and surgery, we could beat this. He told me that he couldn't tell this kind of news with this diagnosis to 9 out of ten of his patients. He was almost giddy (and so was I). Every time the blood counts came back positive and the cancer counts came back lower, he just smiled, hugged me, and said, "You got this!" He and his nurse have truly gone to bat for me. His nurse says, "I'm going to bat for your butt!" (Gotta have humor when dealing with colon cancer!)
Now my colon surgeon is has a different personality. She is very mild mannered and serious and well, not that warm and fuzzy. She has been pleased with my progress, but I don't get hugs and high fives from her. But today was different. The first thing she said when she walked in was, "You look so much better today--I was worried about you last time. I know you were having a tough time." Is this my surgeon? The one who when I was in tears talking about my pain, simply said, "Kirsten, this is fixable." Matter of fact. To the point. Yet today there was hope and joy in her voice. As I signed the consent forms for the surgery scheduled for January 8, in which I will enter the final leg of this marathon, she said, "Kirsten, you have been through more than we doctors can only imagine and you have been a champion. Here is to entering 2014 cancer free!" And then she jumped up and gave me a big hug and said, " See you in the new year and it will be a good one!" I sat there rather flabbergasted and the reality of this whole journey hit me. My surgeon just told me that I WILL be cancer free in 2014. While I have believed, hoped, prayed, and fought with every ounce of my being, this has been the hardest thing I have ever faced. And now I can see a finish line in sight. This marathon is almost over and I am going to be healthy and strong again (in mind, body and spirit).
With a procedure, a pre-op appointment and a surgery date set, I can honestly say that today was one of the best days in this ordeal. I got great news! And as we are in the Christmas season and I was listening to Christmas carols in the car on the way home, I remembered that one night over 2000 years ago, shepherds were tending their flocks and received incredibly great news. " The angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2: 10-11). Good news. Of great joy. For all people. Because of this great news, I have hope. I have joy. I have a Healer.
What is your great news? No matter where you are in life right now, whether in plenty or in want, focus on the great things in your life. Focus on gratitude for what you have been blessed with. Instead of stress or pity or worry, focus on joy.