This week is a big anniversary in my cancer journey. Six years ago I had my major surgery that removed one tumor from my colon and two tumors from my liver. I went in with stage four metastasized cancer and came out with no tumors and clear margins. It was a long ordeal and difficult recovery, but I was surrounded with a multitude of prayer and community from so many of YOU.
I have written about this before, but when my son turned eighteen last year, he had been planning his first tattoo for awhile. One week after his birthday he had the date of my surgery (and being cancer free) tattooed in Roman numerals on his forearm. He wears this with joy knowing the gift we were all given--that I have continued to live for six more years and counting. Despite the cancer spreading and coming back, I still live a beautiful and purpose filled life.
I realize that those of you who have been following my story and my blog for all these years may hear the same thing repeated over and over again. But anniversaries like this are meant to be remembered and celebrated. My reminders to myself and to others to let the petty things go and to pick your battles are so relevant with each day that I live. I find myself at times falling into the trap of self pity or resentment, or pickiness over little things (like when Greg leaves his shoes out in the family room, when there is a basket for shoes five feet away). Now really, in the scheme of things--how is that an issue? It is NOT. I make choices on what is worth expending energy (emotional and mental) and what is not. It is a mental game and a spiritual choice--guided only by the Holy Spirit, not of my own accord.
As I stated in my previous post, I had a really rough time in my last round of chemo. My doctor gave me an extra week off and I started infusion again this week. It took a ton of mental and spiritual preparation to go in knowing that I would have to go through this all again, and I still have two more rounds ahead. But God gave me the sustenance and His sufficiency to go in with a calmer attitude than I expected. And I know I was completely covered in prayer. The side effects began earlier than usual--within 24 hours--and I get my pump disconnected today. As I was praying and preparing, I realized that I can and will go through 5-10 tough days per month, but that leaves me with a heck of a lot of good days and beautiful moments. I have been taking in the majestic sunsets, walking my dogs in the cooler evenings, having quiet moments of rest and reflection, reading for my book club, meeting with friends, and trying to watch all six seasons of Downton Abbey before seeing the movie this weekend. That has been quite a commitment--I am not one who sits much and when I do it is to read and not watch shows. But I have been giving myself a lot of grace to rest and not have to be going and doing all the time. (I still do that, but not quite as much...plus being an empty nester sure changes up my time schedule).
As I celebrate this anniversary of the gift of six years of more life, would you too find reasons to celebrate? There are so many and they come in big and small sizes. Gratefulness changes hearts and minds and allows you to appreciate what God has given you. It's certainly okay to grieve and moan and lament where needed, but always remember that God's mercies are new every morning. You may be in a season of pain or lament, but always try to find those gifts you have been given.
I know that I am a living, walking miracle. Even though my cancer and my treatment continue, I look forward with hope and belief. I never want to take for granted that I have a Savior who suffered on my behalf and who understands and knows my pain. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are my refuge and my strength. So I celebrate today and each day. I pray you would find those things to rejoice in and celebrate as well.