Monthly Archives: February 2012

Fear Not #1

I’ve been dealing a lot lately with anxiety and depression.  How’s that for coming out of retirement and being honest.  I think when I went through cancer I thought that eventually I would be glued back together, have a few physical aches, pains, and scars, but I’d be happy.  I’d be a survivor.  I’d be the warrior on top of the mountain beating my breast having slain the giant.  Right? 

It doesn’t seem to be quite that way.  Well….at first I felt like a conqueror.  I did beat my breast (or what was left of them) and stood proud…..I had survived!  I was so happy.  I didn’t want to take mediocre in my life anymore.  I wasn’t going to lay on my death bed and say “I wish I’d done this,” or “I wish I’d done that.”  I was going to live fully.

So I wrote and I was happy and cancer was gone. 

But then fear started sneaking in.  Here are some ways it sneaks up on me:

1. Silly little lumps or bumps, or pains or bleeding.  I don’t want to live wondering about every little change that is a bit unusual, but if it lasts longer than a few weeks I usually say something to my doctor, which usually leads to scans or blood tests, and it’s the skanky-scans that give me cause for fear.  Just the waiting and the wondering.  I thought I’d get used to it, but I don’t, not really.  It still causes anxiety and I don’t like it.

2. About a year ago I decided to quit blogging.  It was starting to get too painful.  It hit too close to home.  I had become friends with many of the women I blogged with about cancer and had joined a group blog called “Mothers with Cancer.”  I know we all knew the seriousness of our cancers, I just don’t know if any of us really thought it through as to what would happen when one person didn’t make it, and then another, and another and another.  We’ve lost many.  I quit blogging because it became too hard.  I felt sad, I felt guilty, I just couldn’t understand how I was doing so well, while others were slowly dying of cancer.  It didn’t make sense and I didn’t want more fear and anxiety in my life.  But it didn’t really work because even though I quit blogging I couldn’t just cut them out of my life.  I still read their blogs, was friends with them on facebook.  The plan backfired. Not that I really wanted to cut them out of my life, I just didn’t want to hurt anymore.

3.  I think there is also a sense of urgency when someone has cancer.  The physical pain is very visible.  No hair usually gives it away, an ashen tone from being tired or a nice pink flush from the steroids given during the chemo.  But then the flat chest too.  So the doctors go about fixing you and they do their best and you hurry and fight and you stay focused on getting better and then you’re given the free and clear, the NED, no evidence of disease…..and then….”chirp, chirp, you sit and twiddle your thumbs and listen to the silence for a little while and you wonder just how to pick up and move on.  And your family is just glad it’s not cancer and you’re healthy, at least on the outside, but on the inside you’re still hurting.

4.  And then there is the clean-up after cancer….finances, children and their scars, marriage and the strain it puts on the relationship and a host of other issues that were put on the backburner while you try to fight cancer.

And it’s just going to take time.

All while you’re trying to enjoy life because YOU LIVED, and you dare not complain, because YOU LIVED, and you better live fully every single day because YOU LIVED.

You feel guilty, because others didn’t, and won’t.  And husbands are missing their wives, and children are growing up without moms.  And it all seems overwhelming.

And you still have aches and pains to remind you of your scars.

And the internal scars sometimes feel far worse than the external ones.

But nobody really knows.

And you wonder if that happy-go-lucky girl who lived without fear and anxiety will ever return?

And in some ways you tell yourself you are happier now because you see pain more deeply.  You notice people’s pain more.  You feel deeply.

But then you wish sometimes you could laugh more.

And so all I can do is try to move forward the best I know how.  Reading scripture, God’s promise to me.  His love letter to us.  And writing.

I can’t promise anything.  I have no idea how this writing will go or how consistent I’ll be, but I’ve decided to cover as many “fear not” scriptures as I can.  I’m pretty sure there are alot in the Bible.  So I think I’m set for a while.

I’m hoping God’s Word will help heal my broken spirit.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

Taking it one day at a time.

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I’m coming out of retirement….

Yes, it’s true.  I guess I have more to say.  I let my clergygirl.com site go, so I’ll be blogging here again at wordpress.  I may change my blog name.  I’m trying to think of something to call my blog that describes a former pastor, mom, cancer survivor, runner, Jesus love’in, wanna be midwife, hopefully accepted to nursing school soon, student, kind of person.  If you have any suggestions, I’ll take them.  Clergygirl has been with me a long time, but it doesn’t seem to describe me anymore.

But I need to write.  A year ago life started to get busier when I felt healthier and I thought it would be healthy emotionally for me to move on from blogging.  It’s hard to write with a group of people who sometimes make it through cancer and sometimes don’t.  But now I’ve realized I still lose those friends whether I write or not.  I just don’t get the advantages of a therapuetic blog post.   And I think blogging makes me healthy.  I don’t know how or why, but releasing, confessing, journaling, processing with others must have a therapuetic effect on me.  And so I’m back. I’m coming out of retirement.

Yesterday I lost my third blog friend in a year to breast cancer.  This loss hit pretty hard.  My friend Susan had been my mentor when I was diagnosed with IBC.  She was 6 months ahead of me and gave me the inside scoop through her blog site and emails.  She told me what to expect, as painful as it was.  Susan was also the leader and creator of our Mothers with Cancer blog group.  She meant a lot to many people.  She also blogged about planetary sciences and was an advocate for women in general.  There are many heartbroken people out there in the blogosphere right now who are mourning.  I am one of them.

But maybe blogging will help.  I need to honor Susan.  I need to live fully.  I need to make the most of the days I’m given.  So I’m going to write about my endevors, follow my dreams and live life unencumbered by cancer (as much as I can).  It won’t be easy.  If I let it, cancer follows me like a ball and chain.

I’m taking classes to try to get in to nursing school.  This semester it’s pharmacology.  I’ve applied to two programs this year so we’ll see if I can start this fall or if I’ll have to wait.  My end goal is a midwifery program.  I want to work in women’s health…..all aspects, not just baby catching.  My mantra is “I will stay late and come in early for the women who don’t have a lump.”  I hope I can make it.  But I have learned to take it one day at a time and try not to sweat the small stuff.

I made it to my 4 year cancerversary on February 4th.  My dear plastic surgeon has put me back together wonderfully.  I feel pretty good physically…..just arm pain that I’m pretty sure I will live with most of my life.  Lots on numbness, especially when I’m cold.  Even as I type in my house I’m thinking about putting on gloves…lol!

But it’s the emotional pain of survivorship that I didn’t expect.  I think I thought once I had climbed the mountain, conquered the cancer I would live as free as I once did.  I could get back to life.  But this detour seems to be endless.  And I need to be ok with that.  Life isn’t going to look like I had anticipated.  I will always be broken.  I will always experience others pain deeply, especially cancer, and especially for a young mom.  I’ve been in a little valley since I lost my friend Sarah of Sprucehill.com last spring.  I don’t really know how to get out of it, except to maybe wait, and make plans, and dream a little, and give back.

And then there’s the marathon.  I’ve decided I’m going to run a marathon for my 5 year cancerversary next year in February to raise money for IBC and to honor my friend Susan.  I’ve run 4 half-marathons in the past year and a half, but it’s time for me to step up and make this dream happen and do it for the friends I’ve lost to this horrible disease. 

I need to write.  Thanks for hanging out with me while I try to figure out what it means to live fully as a survivor.