I know that many of you have been waiting for news of my last surgery—which by the way was my third surgery within eleven months. Thank you for your concern and because of that, I will spend a little time on the details of the surgery and recovery and then some time on my most recent reflections.
The surgery to remove the tumor from my lung was one month ago today. All went smoothly. The tumor was indeed cancerous and it was a metastasis of the primary cancer which in the cancer world is good news (meaning it wasn’t a new cancer). All the margins were clear which means that I am once again “cancer free." But as I have learned in the cancer culture—that doesn’t mean the journey is over. In fact cancer will be part of my journey for the rest of my life—I am a cancer survivor and yet always a cancer patient. I will have another scan this month and meet with my oncologist that same week. The doctor appointments will continue to be a regular part of my schedule and I may face chemotherapy once again just to do a “safety blast” on my body.
My life will consist of scans and scopes and hopes that cancer has not returned or spread. These scans will be closer in range for the first few years and if the cancer stays away, then the scans will be further and further apart. But I will live the rest of my life having to face the reality that cancer might return to my body. This may seem daunting to some of you, but I choose to accept it and use it to truly prioritize each day of my life. We don’t really understand that until we face something life threatening like I have. Please don’t think that I am Positive Polly about all of this. I hate the fact that I have to have scans and have to wait with anxiety to hear the results. I hate that my husband and children have to live with that fear as well. It sucks, plain and simple. But I have chosen LIFE and I have chosen to spend my time looking at all the good in the world instead of focusing on the bad.
The good of the past month: I had about four really tough days and I have endured some chronic pain until just a few days ago, but the support of my amazing friends and family overcame all of that pain. My lifetime best friend came out from Iowa to stay with me for the week of surgery. Friends came to visit me in the hospital and during my recovery. My mom visited and cleaned my refrigerator and my cupboards and ran carpool daily. The meals, cards, flowers, texts, phone calls, visits, from so many people meant so much. My friend Danielle set up at meal calendar and meals having been coming for the entire month. My college friend who lives in San Jose ordered a meal to be delivered to us on line through a company called “Restaurants to Go." My best friend from junior high traveled from Orange County to bring us a meal and visit me. Near and far people are praying for me and supporting me and I feel the love and it overwhelms me.
My physical recovery has been a thousand times easier than my surgery last year. I still can’t even lift a gallon of milk, but I have been out walking and enjoying the beauty of the hills that surround my home. I tried running twice and that wasn’t a good idea, but I feel strong enough now to try to go back to my spin classes at the end of the week. My mental recovery has been rougher—I have been impatient and controlling and frustrated with little things. Part of that is due to all the medications I am on, and part unfortunately is just my personality. But to focus on the good—I have a husband who is patient and kind and kids who understand the word and the action of “forgiveness."
After the big Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral one month ago (see my previous blog entry on social media), a new one began. People are challenging others to share three things they are grateful for over the span of one week (or something like that). Now this is a positive way to use social media and it focuses on the good in the world instead of the bad. I am not picking this challenge apart, but I would like to comment on it. Shouldn’t we be focusing on what we are grateful for every day? Not just three things each day for a week, but many things each day over the span of our lifetime? Shouldn’t that be the focus of our life—gratitude?? I read a book when I was first diagnosed with cancer, and I wrote an earlier blog post on it as well. It is called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She focuses on writing what she is grateful for every day and to look at the smallest of things. Her goal was to write out one thousand things she was grateful for. I know many people who are doing this and many people who are journaling and thinking about the good instead of the bad.
I am faced daily with the possibility that cancer could make its ugly return. But I choose to focus each day on the things I am grateful for. There are some days that I complain and whine and act like a mad woman and I forget that my life is a sweet, sweet gift. And when those days happen, I simply need to re-direct and focus again on the good and beautiful and the dear and the sweet.
My challenge to you is to start your day being simply grateful that you have a new day--a precious new day. And then begin that day thinking about what you are grateful for. It can be the same thing each day. It can be simple or it can be big. I am thankful for that cup of butterscotch toffee coffee that I drink when I write in my journal during my quiet time. I am thankful for that morning when I run that is cool and misty. I am thankful that I have two beautiful sons who are healthy, smart, and kind. I am thankful for my husband who I don’t deserve who puts up with me day in and day out, for better or for worse and in sickness and in health. And my list goes on and I write it out each day. The small, the quirky, the big and the bold.
Take the time to focus on all that you are thankful for; take the time for gratitude. It will change your daily living. It will change your perspective on life. And this is all I have set out to do in my blog dear readers. To inspire you, to challenge you, and to help you see the beauty of this one glorious life we have been given by a great and holy God. May your day be blessed.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” A.A Milne