It looks like I am headed into the ring for round four of Kirsten vs. cancer. I’ve got my boxing gloves on and my head up. On Monday I received a call from my oncology nurse telling me that the cancer markers in my blood were elevated and on a small, but steady incline. She said that my doctor wanted to see me the next morning to make a “plan.” I swear I felt like I had been kicked in the gut, the wind knocked out of me, and all my blood dropped to my toes. After calling my husband and son in Colorado, I drove home (I was out visiting a friend who has a brain tumor), told my son Micah, and then went directly to bed. I was wiped out. I couldn’t pray, talk, read my Bible, journal, or anything. I just rested. That night I went through every worst case scenario possible. Greg went with me to the doctor visit and talking to the doctor helped a bit, but doesn’t change my situation. Here is the scoop:
The elevated levels in my blood indicate that there is cancer somewhere in my body. We just have to find it. The good news (if there is any good in finding out you have cancer again—not, never) is that the levels are small which means it is probably an isolated tumor and not spread everywhere. Now we have to seek it out, isolate it, and destroy it. This means that I will have a full body scan in early January, and monthly blood tests and visits to my oncologist. If they find it (and doctor thinks it is most likely in my lung), then I will have either radiation or surgery. The thought of having surgery number ten so close to my last surgery makes my anxiety meter go through the roof. This is not at all how I want to enter 2018.
But…..it is what it is and I have to accept it and deal with it. I honestly have stopped questioning or asking why or trying to figure out what I am supposed to learn through all of this. It just is. The more I fight or question it, the more frustrated I get. I am learning to take it day by day and continue to live well and love well with the time I have. I feel like I have been so blessed to have already survived three rounds of this cancer—like I am the Energizer Bunny—I keep going and going and going.
This weekend I was at an incredible Celebration of Life for my beautiful, resilient, fierce friend Edie Davis. She was one of my “cancer culture” mentors. Her husband, sons, and pastors did an amazing job of celebrating her life through stories, humor, video, and music. But of course it was hard for all of us because we are here and she is not. She lived and loved with gusto, adventure and a servant heart. So much of her philosophy on life and faith is similar to mine. I want to share two quotes that she said that were shared at the memorial. I really hope I don’t butcher them as I am doing my best to paraphrase them. The first quote she shared as she was living out her final months: She said, “You can love and care for people at least ten minutes a day and still have time for a nap.” That’s who she was—always generously giving her time and her wisdom to those around her. And the other quote that her son shared from one of her journals was this: “My life impact isn’t global; my life impact is personal.” And it is so true. She impacted so many people in her circle and community with her grace, wit, compassion, and love. Edie loved to reflect and journal—very similar to how I process and grow. Those quotes remind me of my philosophy of living and loving that I have shared in previous blog posts. I have no desire to be known or famous, but I do want to be known for loving those in my life well and for having an impact on them. Edie inspired me to continue living a life of purpose with a servant heart and for the glory of God.
So here is what I am doing with my news. I am going to keep on living. Yes, living and loving and serving and helping and growing…..for whatever time I have. I am going to head to Puerto Vallarta for Christmas with my family and eat lobster on the beach and laugh and play games and swim and read and love them well. I am going to get my scan and my blood work and keep my head up and throw left hooks at cancer every chance I get. I am going to continue to pray for a miracle and pray for a cure and pray for healing. I am going to work harder, longer, and faster on my book and attempt to get it out and published within the next three months. I am going to proclaim the freedom and grace that Christ gives every chance I get through the way I live and love.
And at this Christmas season this is my prayer for you:
Dear Lord Jesus, I pray that my friends would gather loved ones close and show love through words and actions. I pray they would put pettiness and grievances behind them and make priorities in their lives that put people first. I pray they would know the peace and comfort that comes from You. I pray they would live lives filled with meaning and purpose and that they would not wait until a tragedy or crisis strikes to take life seriously. I pray they would know that You love them as they are and they do not need to clean up or fix up to be accepted by You. Amen.