Tag Archives: after cancer

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 Ready

I’ve had a hard time emotionally lately.   Writing anything spiritual here means I open myself up and I’m afraid it isn’t pretty.  I’m really not quite sure if it’s moving on from cancer or going through reconstruction that has set me off, but I’m struggling.  I asked my oncologist if this was normal, and she said it was “very” normal.  This made me feel better. 

I’m not even really sure how to describe what I’ve been feeling lately.   I think it might have something to do with loss.  Like leaving a job or moving.  I’m wrapping up a part of my life that kept me busy for almost a year and a half.  I lived and breathed cancer.  I grew close to people who treated me for cancer.  Now I’m free to move on.  It’s a little scary.  Everything I fought for, is now right in front of me.  I am free to make plans for the future.  I’ve conquered cancer, but now, can I achieve what I fought for….living fully.  I’m standing at the doorstep and I’m trying to decide if I should take the step I suppose.  But I’m scared. 

Life has really revolved around me for a while now.  My cancer treatment.  My health.  I needed to take care of myself, but now it’s time to move on.  One thing that has become a stark reality in the past few days is how much self-focus I have right now.   This is especially clear since reconstruction.  If you had asked me before my reconstruction, I’m sure I would have told you I would have been happy with semi-even breasts of any size and a flat tummy.  But now their here and I’m being critical.  On one hand, I’m so happy.  And then there’s a part of me that is spending an ungodly amount of time analyzing the finished product.  I’m spending too much time on the internet trying to figure out how I can have more symmetrical breasts, real looking breasts.  I suppose digger doesn’t help. because I’m forced to check-out the girls several times a day and I’m reminded they don’t look as pretty.  Not like the originals anyway. 

I’m so thankful for plastic surgery but for me I need to be careful because it’s gotten me too focused on self.  

Here’s what I read recently in Romans 9:5-6:

“For those that live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. But those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace.”

So I’m going to try to turn my heart back towards the things God wants me to think about.  Loving Him, living in His Word, loving His people.  I’m going to keep blogging this journey, but at some point I may need to stop to officially be done with breast cancer.  But as long as I’m under reconstruction, I’ll keep telling you about it and how God is molding me, shaping me, and breaking me and all that I am learning through this.  Maybe it will somehow help you. 

One thing that will help me move in the right direction is that I got a job.  It’s in my field, so it’s a ministry position.  I’ll be a part-time pastor here at a local church.  When it’s officially announced I can be more clear about it, until then, I’ll just say I’m excited to be back on the job.  I love ministry and I love facilitating community and seeing lives change when people choose to walk with Christ.   And then, hopefully this fall I will start taking classes towards pursuing a nursing degree.  Many of you know I have a secret hobby of coaching couples in natural birth and I also love that.  I am hopeful that down the road I can combine my ministry and midwifery in missions oversees.  But I’m taking steps, and hoping God makes it clear exactly how he wants to use me because I’m ready.

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