In September 2011, I herniated 2 discs in my back which required me to be basically down for 4 months. After these herniations had calcified around my sciatica nerves, I needed surgery, which happened mid-December, 2011, and I healed quite well. I thanked my Higher Power for the opportunity for growth, for the ability to manage, on my own, with the help of only a couple of meals from friends, and I moved on with my with my agenda – teach at the local university, work full-time for an education company, and be a chaplain, wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, friend.
I went from living in pain to pushing my body into recovery, and registering to run a 5k in November (I have never been a runner, just a walker). I left no empty spots, no time for thought, for meditation, for inspiration – no room for change because my back was better, and I had received what I thought I needed.
And then, breast cancer. Out of the clear blue sky – straight off the “My 35 year class reunion was a success (I was the chairperson),” fever and “Timpanogos Storytelling is underway (www.timpfest.org)” frenzy. I found the lump on Thursday evening, and by the following Wednesday I had a diagnosis of cancer and surgery the following Wednesday – Stage 1 Grade 3 Invasive Ductile Carcinoma, Triple Negative. 12 days from finding to removing (nothing in the nodes or surrounding tissue). I was told I’d need chemotherapy and radiation. No one in my family has had cancer; cancer was never ever even in my vocabulary. I knew I could not go on this journey alone, and so I invited friends and family to join me. I figured the prayers and positive thoughts of these angels would be enough to bear me up. I learned my life was out of my control, the 5k wasn’t going to happen, and I had to live moment by moment, not only trusting others, but actually needing others to care for me. No plans – just prayers.
My family and friends- I cannot say enough good about them – husband, parents and children, sisters, and an aunt and an uncle who have seen me at my sickest and still stand by my side, ready to bathe, dry, tuck, cuddle, listen, at a moment’s notice.
So far I’ve survived 8 rounds of chemo, and I’m pausing now to regain my health before I begin 35 radiation treatments. All of my hair is gone except for my eyelashes! I’ve tried to put my stamp on cancer by being me – I have a great friend who hennas my head, friends who feed me vegetarian meals and my husband meat, a job that has been so accommodating (I had to drop my university classes, but I’ll be back in the fall), and a doctor and his staff who have been my cheerleaders – listening, showing concern, and then administering medications and kind words.
I’ve been so sick – sick from the chemotherapy; I feel blessed to not have been sick from my cancer. I tell friends I have been as near to hell as I ever want to be – chemotherapy has been so tough. I figure I’ve spent 15 hours a week for 4 months at the oncologist’s office getting chemo and IV hydration. My doctor told me dealing with my cancer would take most of my time, and she was correct. It’s been a part-time job, and full-time some days.
The hardest things for me have been slowing down – I’m a workaholic, do-aholic, and I’ve had to learn to “be.” I’ve had to learn to listen to my body, not push my body. I’ve had to learn how to celebrate getting up in the morning, exercising, and getting dressed. I’ve learned how dependent I really am on others, and that I need to listen to others and validate their words as much as they validate mine.
I thank God that in His infinite wisdom I’ve had cancer during the fall and winter. I so look forward to nature’s spring and my spring – the rebirth that I am also going to have. I look forward to washing my hair, walking around the block and climbing stairs and not getting winded, going out in public and not worrying about catching whatever germs are in the air.
And – I am grateful for cancer. I will never be the same person I was 6 months ago – and I mourn that loss. But I have learned so much from this journey, and I will be forever changed. I’ve been writing about my experience on a blog at http://folkladysadventures.blogspot.com
The Love of God and others, the Hope in a brighter day, and the inner-Strength I possess has been my motivating source – on hard days, Love, Hope, Strength is where I’ve turned.