Today marks the three year anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with cancer. I will always remember and write on this day for every year that I continue to live on this earth. For it is in remembering and reflecting that we learn and grow. The words “You have cancer” have forever changed my life, and the life of my family. I will never forget…and I will never stop sharing my story because it is a story of hope and redemption.
I will never forget the phone calls I made to family and friends after hearing the initial diagnosis--of explaining the story over and over again, of being on autopilot.
I will never forget the first appointment at Moore’s Cancer Center when my diagnosis of “early stages colon cancer” dramatically changed to “stage four metasticized cancer.”
I will never forget hearing the words, “the cancer has spread to three tumors in your liver. We are going to try all we can."
I will never forget my primary care doctor telling me," You are in the best care possible with really smart doctors, but we both know that it is Jesus who is your Healer. He is bigger than any of these humans."
I will never forget the chemotherapy sessions and the smell of plastic, the bitter taste of saline in my throat, the sensitivity to hot and cold, the numbness in my fingers and toes, the hours sitting in the infusion center. I will never forget all the friends who sat with me and drove me to every appointment, showing me what true friendship, support and encouragement really mean.
I will never forget my lifelong best friend Kathy flying out to two of my surgeries to spend time with me and my family and support me in every way. I will never forget my mom coming out after every surgery to keep my family going with grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, folding laundry and doing carpool. (and taking lots of orders from me and putting up with my moods and grumpy days).
I will never forget the patient kindness of my husband who took over so many things to take care of me and my boys, while continuing his job. I will never forget his love, his prayers, his faithfulness, his strength.
I will never forget the conversations with my boys about my diagnosis, about faith, life, death, and HOPE. I will never forget their questions, fears, and prayers. I will never forget their resilience and how they endured so much while going to school, playing sports, and continuing with their regular routine.
I will never forget the meals, the notes, the flowers, the gifts on my doorstep, the visits, the texts, the cards and words of encouragement that our community poured over us for the length of this journey.
I will never forget the intensity of wanting to live each day to the fullest, to find joy in all circumstances, to cling to Jesus like never before.
I will never forget the difficulty of recovery after surgery…of realizing how much we take our health and strength for granted. I will never forget not being able to stand, shower, or walk. I will never forget if the tic tac toe arrangement of scars on my body would ever fade away.
I will never forget the glimpses of Christ through people and circumstances. The people who showed up at just the right time, the provisions God made to pay all our insurance co-pays, the cards or emails that came when I was in a dark place.
I will never forget coming to terms that I may not survive this and that no matter what, God is still good and faithful. I will never forget and I still don’t-- that no matter when I die, I know where I will be going…with full assurance, a life in eternity with the God of grace.
I will never forget the friends who were diagnosed within the same year as me—the survivors who are still with us, those that face each day with hope….Molly, Bonnie, Amanda, Marni, Linda.
I will never forget those who were diagnosed during my trial and who are no longer with us. I will remember them for their strength and dignity…..Chris, Judy, and Kelly.
I will never forget the words, “You are cancer free.”
I will never forget the endless journeys into the stark white MRI tube and hearing the words, “Breathe in….hold your breath, breathe out.” I will never forget the attempts at putting the contrast dye into my veins, being stuck multiple times because my veins were weakened from chemotherapy.
I will never forget getting the news six months after my second surgery….”the cancer is back”. I will never forget that it spread to my lung and I will never forget the third surgery within a year, the third recovery, and the next round of chemo.
I will never forget praying and asking God, “please let me see my boys graduate”….and then pushing the prayer further….”please let me see them go to college, get married. Please let me meet my grandbabies.” I will never forget adding (with reluctance)…..”If it is YOUR will God.”
I will never forget that each day is a gift, that each moment is precious, that whether the day is ordinary, mundane, or routine—it is a day. I will never forget that life is filled with the ups and downs, the good and the bad, and that how we respond to our circumstances is the determination of our character.
I will never forget that my HOPE is found in Jesus, no matter what my circumstance. I will never forget that my children have that HOPE as well—and that they grew in their faith due to this difficult journey. I will never forget that trials make us stronger even though we don’t want to go through them. (James 1: 1-2).
I will never forget that my LIFE is in the hands of Jesus and that my HOPE and eternity are in His hands as well. He is my rock, my fortress, my strength and my salvation. (paraphrase of Psalm 18).
I will never forget hearing the words, again, "You are cancer free."
I am alive today. Three years after my diagnosis, I am a walking, living miracle. I will never forget.