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Tag Archives: cancer warrior

Power of Story

16 Mar

I heard a cancer survivor speak recently and I have to admit I was a little annoyed. I am incredibly happy that this person was completely cancer free and that her treatment worked for her, it’s a place all cancer fighters hope for. I think it was her story and her ‘after’ story that irritated me. The presentation was to a large group so I can imagine it may have been stressful but what I missed was a little authenticity, the guts of her journey. Maybe the story was too simple; got cancer, got treated, got cured, stayed positive, doesn’t remember having any ups and downs emotionally. Maybe I’m being too cynical, that’s probably it. All I know is for me to share in her joy and excitement I needed to be able to connect to her story and being a Stage 4 cancer fighter currently, the expectations and probability to connect was high but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t inspired, and all I could do was sigh, ‘that’s nice, good for her,’ a sharp contrast to someone I heard speak last year. Listening to last year’s survivor story left me on the edge of my seat, I was in tears as I was brought into her journey with her words and I wanted to seek her out afterward and know more. I didn’t even have cancer then.

You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.’~Erin Morgenstern

Have you ever thought about that? The possibility that your story could actually take residence in someone’s soul and become part of their blood and self and purpose. Whoa. If that’s the case, would you be more truthful about who you are, your feelings, your purpose, your words? What I wanted from the speaker was authenticity, truth, and maybe her truth was just that simple. Maybe she didn’t have low points in her journey or maybe she just didn’t let herself get there. My truth on my current cancer path is different and that’s ok because we are all created differently. The authentic self is soul made visible. – Sarah Ban Breathnach  Be authentic.

Today’s page in my story is a jumble of words and emotions. My mind is all over the place. I have the consistency of work and kid rhythms but my mind and heart are still longing to save the world, to check things off on my ever growing bucket list, to see dreams become reality. I heard a fellow cancer fighter say that she tries to create such a big and busy life in order to shove down the ugly cancer stuff; in essence to make cancer just a small part in her mind. I feel the same, planning big, checking things off my bucket list and keeping busy helps me forget on occasion that I have cancer and it also helps me in a small way not to live from scan to scan. Faith. I recently read from an Oswald Chambers devotional that at the beginning of the Christian walk we are so marked by feelings, more by sight than by faith, but there comes a time when that joy is not what it used to be and that sometimes the soul gets dark but that is when God is taking the soul out of the realm of religious feeling and emotion into the realm of faith (all paraphrased). Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien. Deep faith. I’m right there now too. I have a sweet relationship with God that has deepened over the years through life, cancer, and other obstacles, and it’s what’s giving me hope. On Jen Hatmaker’s podcast she ends each episode with the question, ‘What is saving your life right now?’ I have to say for me, it’s my quiet time with God each day and the people I have chosen to surround myself with, my family and my friends; both give me hope, peace, and joy. My mind may be in overdrive but today I get to add another page to my story, I’m alive.

Today I wear Flower Petal Pout Lip Color in Chestnut Kiss. I was pleasantly surprised by these lipsticks from Drew Barrymore’s line. They are inexpensive, have great color, are pretty long lasting, and are fairly moisturizing as well. I chose this color because I was looking for an everyday brown that I could wear without looking ‘dirty’ on my brown skin and this was actually perfect! Cheers!

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And other thoughts…

11 Feb

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You are a better Christian if you go to church every Sunday…and other statements that I ponder. I’m not sure which I have more on a moment to moment basis, thoughts or emotions. I can run from joy and happiness to depressed and anxious and back to joy in less than 30 seconds and the same goes with the various topics that pop into my mind in that amount of time. I can go from my cancer and what dreams and goals I still have, to the kids’ schedule for the week, to ‘I need a piece of candy’ in no time flat. Anyhow, I mentioned church because ever since I got the news that my cancer was back last July I haven’t really felt like going to church. People have asked if I am angry at God or have just assumed I’m maybe running away from my faith for now. No and no. In fact, I have never felt closer to God and felt more loved by Him. I’m not avoiding church, I still go, but sometimes I just don’t really feel like it. I believe there are seasons to our faith; seasons of discovery but also seasons when solitude is necessary and maybe that is where I am. I think also during this time when I’m trying to navigate my feelings of living with cancer I’m not sure I can handle that much ‘religious cheerleading’ (poor description and probably offensive but I can’t really describe it any other way). Bottom line, my faith has to do with me and God and we talk all the time. I know I couldn’t do cancer without Him and I see evidence of His love and grace daily from the words I read in the bible to the kindness and love I receive from friends and even strangers whether that’s in a church building or not. He gives me the peace to move forward and trust that everything and everyone will be ok.

img_1326Thought 2. I have heard many many times that I don’t look sick. It’s true. My cancer’s stable so in the meantime I work, go out with friends, go to the kids’ sporting activities and events, ‘normal’ life, and I look no different with Stage 4 cancer now than I did July 6, 2017 (the day before I found out my cancer was back). I don’t ever take offense to the comment, I’m truly grateful because who wants to look sick? Part of my thought process though is that none of us look sick but most of us are. The Facebook and Instagram pictures are great but don’t show sadness, depression, arguments, adversity, bullying, cruelty, or any of the things normal people struggle with every single day. REAL. LIFE. All of us are living, breathing novels with incredible stories and beautiful covers but we don’t see each others’ ripped and tear-stained pages, highlights, the worn out corners, etc…none of us really look sick.

Last thought for today…contrary to social media and what’s most highlighted on the news, people are really great. I am so blown away by the beauty and kindness and generosity of people. In fact, during this time it’s people and my interactions that have been magical and have given me a sense of wonder. I believe we all want the same thing, to know we’re loved and to know we matter. If we can give that much to another person the return is crazy. Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, img_7380while loving someone deeply gives you courage. ~Lao Tzu  Courage and strength, all of us need both. I read this quote from an unknown author and I really loved it, ‘Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried; but actually you’ve been planted.’ HOW AWESOME IS THAT? Planted for rebirth, planted for new, planted for breakthrough. I love it.

Today I wear NYX Butter Gloss in Red Velvet. I own several colors of this gloss for a few reasons; moisturizing, great color, cheap. If you’re afraid to dive in and wear a bold red lip color you can start with this. This gloss gives just enough color without being scary and it feels great too. I chose this color because it’s red and I do love a good Red Velvet cake! Cheers!

Stable, but…

30 Jan

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Stable again! My cancer is still stable! I have to say I am starting to love that word because well, I have to. What does it even mean? It has been such an interesting and emotional ride and just as quickly as the mood swings up it can easily make it’s way back down. Cancer just sucks. I read a blog written by another cancer warrior last week and it. was. perfect. It perfectly described how I’ve been feeling and I have used this analogy with a number of people already. The writer described her cancer as a bomb strapped to her chest not knowing when it was actually going to blow and that is pretty much how I feel. Categorized as stable is exactly that, still with cancer, but with stable and slow growth; practically speaking the tumors have grown less than 20% since the previous scan. I guess this is the goal if you are living with cancer so I try to be really happy about it. Going back to the bomb analogy and combining it with statistics for my particular ‘brand’ of cancer it goes something like this…in 5 years, 50% of the bombs will have exploded and in 10 years, 9 of 10 bombs will have exploded. Barring all scientific advances, that’s a little rough to think about and that is what keeps my heart heavy and my mind focused on time. The other side of the coin is this, science is advancing faster than the doctors can keep up with so it seems statistics change on an almost daily basis, hallelujah! For now, my mind wrestles with the bomb strapped to my chest not knowing when it will go off but every ‘stable’ buys me more time.

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photo cred: kensington church

I am part of a small, closed Facebook support group of people with the same cancer (both type and stage) as me. Since metastatic thyroid cancer is a little more rare it was nice to find a place with resources and people just like me. Today I heard that one of the moderators passed away rather quickly after he took a bad turn just after the new year. His posts were some of my favorite because he brought both quirky and lighthearted comments along with scientific articles. He posted after the new year and said he made it to where the doctors said he would but if he got to 2019 then he would beat that deadline. Yesterday he posted from his hospital bed that things were not good and today he’s gone. Boom. Sad. So just as quickly after rejoicing my stable scan I’m reminded that I still carry that bomb. It has definitely helped keeping my journal of positive moments and points of gratitude daily. It refocuses my mind and reminds me that we all just have today. Most if not all the moments and things I’m grateful for revolve around the people I’m surrounded by. Joy is still my word this year and I am pressing through; moment by moment seeking out things that bring a smile to my face and trying to surround myself with people that bring me joy, love , and lots of laughter. I am finally chasing old dreams and goals too which has been a fun and interesting journey! ‘The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.’ ~Thomas Paine
Stable is great! I will continue to smile, grow strong, and grow brave!

Today I wear Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Elyssa. I do love these lipsticks because they feel like a lip balm and have a peppermint taste and smell while also having great color. I chose Elyssa which is a deep brown berry because it looks fairly dark on me but still has the lightness of berry (so it’s not like I’m wearing black lipstick). It kind of describes my mood at times..kinda dark (because of that stupid bomb), but the brightness is still there shining through. Cheers!

Scanxiety

17 Jan

For the past few nights I haven’t been sleeping that well. I’ve also been waking up in the middle of the night from nightmares; nothing specific and not really monster/death dreams, but you know the ones, when you’re late for something important but your feet are like lead and can’t move or no matter how fast you’re packing it can never get done? Yup, I wake up anxious, sweating, and not being able to catch my breath. There’s a term in the cancer world that’s been thrown around a lot but I can’t ever remember feeling it (although I’m positive I probably have felt it)…scanxiety. It. is. Real. So real in fact, that it was written about in Time Magazine in 2011 and mentioned again on medscape.com last February (just a couple places among the many). Author Bruce Feiler refers to his scans as his ‘regular date with digital destiny’ to show whether his lung nodules had grown. He goes on to say, ‘Scans are like revolving doors, emotional roulette wheels that spin us around a few days and spit us out the other side.’ He’s right, my dreams and lack of sleep are from the emotional roulette of my upcoming scans only to end with some result which ‘starts the calendar again’ til the next one when you have metastatic disease. It is so strange because during my normal day I’m very conscious it’s time again and don’t feel super anxious about it, then night hits and the need to sleep hits, then…enough about that, by the end of the week I’ll be all done 🙂

In my quest for chasing joy this year I have started something different in my daily journaling life. I have started writing the absolute best part or parts about my day along with at least three things I’m grateful for. When I say the best part, I mean every single detail of why it was the best part of the day including full description of event(s), who I was with, what it was about, how it made me feel, etc. After reading back a week of events it did not fail to put a smile on my face. I would recommend this practice to everyone. One thing I am so grateful for and has been a part of some of my best events are friends. A beautiful thing this cancer life has opened my eyes to are the great people and great friends I am surrounded by; people who have stuck with me through not just cancer but divorce, raising teens, changing jobs, moving, etc. Friends who have not ceased to believe the best. I have met some of the greatest people and I don’t believe in coincidence. Friends are God’s special blessing and a really great friend is a soothing balm to the soul. If you remain heart and hand open and can be a good friend to those God has placed in your life you can still see the beauty of people and have hope despite this crazy world.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.’ ~H.Nouwen

I am unbelievably grateful to all those who I have crossed paths with for a lifetime or if even for a moment. We are all connected. Today I wear Fresh Sugar Lip treatment in sugar Berry. these are really pigmented lip balms that are super moisturizing. I chose this because it’s winter in Michigan and this helps keep lips moisturized and the color is perfect. Cheers!

Getting Older

22 Oct

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I read in a magazine last week that the United States is now the number one country for cosmetic procedures surpassing Brazil. We have become a country obsessed with bettering ourselves from the outside in instead of the inside out. What happened? At a time when we get fired up about politics, race, gender identification, and identity, we have also become #1 in cosmetic procedures…just sounds funny to me. Don’t get me wrong, I just sat in a chair getting my hair colored to cover my grays and I’ve invested a good bit of money in anti-aging creams and serums just to slow it all down. We have so much pressure these days to preserve our youth and appearance it’s crazy. I have a daughter who is a senior in high school and I know that no miracle cream or procedure will help me look even close to her age. I find that as much as we feel young on the inside you don’t really realize your true age until you’re surrounded by young people; teens, 20 somethings,etc…they just speak their own language.

This week I celebrate my birthday and of course this is the week I go back for another scan to see if and how much my tumors have grown. What a strange time it is as I play mental gymnastics with my head and heart. From all my walks with Relay for Life the posters that affected me the most were the ones that said ‘Happy Birthday’ because they reminded me to be grateful for another year of life. Well here I am, getting older and trying to stay grateful despite the current circumstances. It’s not that easy. I’m grateful, I’m sad, I’m anxious, you name it, a plethora of emotions as I anticipate the scan and what the future holds. How quickly with cancer my focus has gone from the desire to hang on to my youth to now longing to be able to grow old. I want to see my youngest graduate high school, I want to be at their weddings, I want to meet my grandkids, I want to be old and gray and retired with my husband by my side; none of us actually has this guarantee do we? Sigh. For now I will gaze at the stars, breathe fresh air, look into the eyes of my loved ones and hug them tight as often as they’ll let me. I will pray for peace in my soul and I will try to focus on being more grateful instead of fearful. I get to celebrate another birthday, what a privilege it is to be alive!img_6922

I want to feel all there is to feel, he thought. Let me feel tired, now, let me feel tired. I mustn’t forget, I’m alive, I know I’m alive, I mustn’t forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that.’~R. Bradbury

She worked her toes into the sand, feeling the tiny delicious pain of the friction of tiny chips of silicon against the tender flesh between her toes. That’s life. It hurts, it’s dirty, and it feels very, very good.’~O. Card

In all things give thanks’~ 1Thess 5:18

Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.’~ James 1:2-3

Today I wear the one lip product in my purse at all times…Dior Addict Lip Glow in pink (which is the original and only color available until recently). It’s a lip balm that’s moisturizing but also brings out the natural pink in your lips. I love it! I chose it because of the name and because it just highlights what you’re already made of. Cheers and glow on!

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