I don’t want to be a cancer survivor living my life from one scan to the next.
After a cancer diagnosis it’s hard not to want to rush through the treatment and get to the finish line. It’s difficult to live life for today and not for the three months or two years from now. I would be lying if I told you I had never prayed and asked God to quickly speed up time and allow me to wake up cancer-free and in remission in 2014. I even said, “I don’t care if I miss what happens in these next couple years, just get me to the finish line!” It’s the truth. Like it or not. Now, of course I don’t want to miss out on any part of my life, but there have been times where the future looks so much brighter than the present. But is it really? We have no way of knowing, and that’s what keeps my dependance and reliance on God burning still.
Whenever I get in these little “funks” of wanting to push the fast forward button through life, my husband reminds me that we shouldn’t be living life scan to scan. That if I continue to keep blinders on and only focus on the two-year mark, I’ll be missing out on everything that is happening now. I’ll admit it, he’s right. I don’t want to speed through these next few years, because they are equally a part of my story as my declaration of remission is. As an avid reader, I think of it this way: If a book was missing two of it’s chapters, the story wouldn’t be complete, would it? The middle is just as important as the beginning and the ending. The middle affects the rest of the story, and if I were to speed through these next two years, my ending wouldn’t be the same.
I have begun reciting statements to myself everyday. No, I’m not referring to talking to myself (although, that does happen); I simply mean that I make an internal declaration daily. “Today is going to be a great day. I’m alive. I’m thankful. I’m living life for today, and I am cancer-free.” In good moments these statements are easy to repeat, however when my mind wanders down the “what-if” path, sometimes I have to work hard to convince myself. Remaining positive and truly believing that I am healed takes work but makes a huge difference in how I live my life. I am a believer of many things. Top of the list is Jesus Christ, and right below is that through Him I have been healed. Believing in anything takes a large amount of trust. To declare that I believe my body is cancer-free equally means that I trust that treatment has done it’s job. That I trust in the knowledge my doctors possess. That I trust that the surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation has run it’s course effectively. And ultimately, I trust that God works everything together for my good.
Today I am reminded why I should follow my husband’s advice and live life in the now and not the future. I had my first three month check up since the end of treatment. Now that treatment and doctors visits aren’t a daily or even weekly deal, walking through the halls of the hospital to my doctor’s office brings back a rush of memories, thoughts, and emotions. Because I have a heightened sense of smell and often tie smells to memories, the aroma of the hospital hallway that leads to my oncologist stirs up an avalanche of feelings. Frankly, I don’t like being there. Simply because that’s where I endured my vast hours of cancer-fighting procedures. My brain immediately goes into unsure and anxious mode. Luckily those anxieties diminish once I step foot into the office and am greeted by my wonderful team of nurses. Today’s appointment could not have gone any smoother. I absolutely adore my medical team. They have become a part of my family. Because I don’t see them as often as I used to, every time that I do, it’s like a family reunion. After catching up on the latest in each of our lives, we get down to the nitty gritty. The gloves go on (quite literally) and the games begin.
My oncologist did a pelvic exam, pap smear, overall body check, and blood draw. The blood draw was almost invisible next to the laughter that we were sharing in the tiny exam room; Who says a trip to the gynecologic oncology office can’t be fun? Once the gloves were off, she shared the news… Everything looks and feels wonderful! Not only does my body look and feel healthy, I’ve officially lost twenty pounds since my visit three months ago! She continues to be amazed at my recovery and resilience. What a breath of fresh air, and news that I definitely needed to hear. Another weight was lifted off my shoulders, and I can breathe a little easier now. I think that’s how it’s going to be for the rest of my road to remission…With every good appointment and clear scan, a little more is going to be lifted off my shoulders.
More of what needs to be shared is the reason behind the blood draw. Typically at this stage in the game, blood draws aren’t necessary. For me, because I have chosen to keep my port for a little while, I will need to get it flushed every six to eight weeks to prevent clogging. However, because I am out of treatment and resuming my daily life with no “issues,” testing my blood levels is no longer high on the agenda. So why did they take my blood today? They will be testing my fertility. Some of your jaws may drop because you thought that wasn’t even a possibility. And while I still cannot and will never be able to carry my own child, there still is a chance that I might have eggs. During my hysterectomy, my oncologist transposed my ovaries to a higher location so they could be out of the way of radiation, and also with hopes that my eggs could be saved through the brutal treatment. I like to joke and say, “Who knows? They could be in my armpits!” Probably not.
My doctors have informed me that I would notice immediately if my ovaries died or were affected in any way. So far, only a couple months passed where I was having minuscule, dare I say, “hot flashes.” Frankly, they were nothing like what those of you in menopause have shared with me. I was not ripping the sheets off of myself at night, and my body wasn’t being engulfed in sweat. My face would just get slightly flush every now and then. Not every hour. Not every day. These bursts of heat, as I’ll refer to them, have completely disappeared over the last two months. When I shared that news with my oncologist, with a smile on her face she hugged me and shared her enthusiasm. Therefore, because I don’t show any signs of menopausal symptoms, my ovaries could still be alive and well. And if they are, the eggs that are nestled in them could have possibly survived the storm. You can do the math. Eggs+Sperm=Baby. If my eggs are good, Matt and I will then decide if we want to harvest them and go down the In Vitro Fertilization route. Because we don’t have the results yet, I won’t get ahead of myself. But keep checking back for updates on the baby makers! My team has informed me that I should receive the results by tomorrow. For now, please pray that my ovaries are alive and healthy, and that we will find peace in the test results. We put our hope not in a scan or a test, but in Him.
Romans 8:26-28 (The Message)
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”