It’s been about a week since my very last chemotherapy treatment, and I’m feeling different than I expected. Physically, I’ve rebounded a lot quicker this round, and in fact, was at church only three days after chemo (that’s unheard of for me). I’ve continued to get better and better faster than I ever have before. I’m not sure why that is, but I’ll take it. Emotionally, it’s a whole different story.
I expected to be jumping for joy on the last day of sippin’ chemo cocktails. But, boy was I wrong. I cried that night. I was both happy and sad that this chapter was ending. Sad, unsure, nervous, drained, and exhausted. Happy, anxious, excited, and overwhelmed. My emotions poured out through tears staining my cheeks. I felt both defeated and triumphant. Alongside my husband, I was utterly confused… and still am.
Shouldn’t I be over the moon, swimming in glitter, and running through fields proclaiming that I’m cancer-free? Shouldn’t I be thrilled? Shouldn’t I be proud when I receive congratulatory wishes? I don’t know, but this isn’t streamers and confetti like I expected.
I find myself feeling lost. I feel as though I was dropped down in a land I know very little about. I’m unsure of what path to take and where to find the roads leading to the dreams Matt and I have harbored. I can barely put my right foot in front of my left. I’m lost. My job for over a year has been fighting an epic battle against this potentially fatal enemy called cancer. I am a professional cancer warrior. I know the ins, outs, ups, downs, sides, and in-betweens of this journey. I have more medical knowledge than I ever knew I could possess. Although my identity is not in this diagnosis, it has been a huge part of my life for a long time. It’s been my job, my responsibility, my purpose. And now that it is potentially over, I don’t know where to go or what to do next.
The truth remains- I am thankful. I don’t wish to be in this battle any longer. If I have to, I will, but I am desperately praying and exhaustedly believing that this monster will no longer see my body as it’s residence. I want to live. I want to see our dreams come to fruition. I want to move on. As I think on and analyze my feelings, I can’t help but understand that I must accept this as a part of my life’s story. Of course, I continue to know that this has forever changed our future as we saw it, but I suppose, somewhere deep inside of me, I believed that we could pick up and move on. As if all of this was just a chapter, and we could turn the page. As much as I would like to forget about this diagnosis and continue on my merry way like nothing ever happened, I simply cannot. And I will forever bare the scars as a reminder of what will no longer be.
We ushered in 2012 joyfully and expectant. We were taking action and beginning to see our dreams playing out. Our metaphorical bags were packed and we were ready to move forward with plans for the new year. Then only a few short weeks later, our luggage of life was removed from our hands and spilled all over the floor. Dreams, wishes, and hopes were scattered and put on hold. More than a year later, I find myself looking at all the pieces and wondering which dream to pick up first. Which piece of the puzzle will be our next step? Where do we even begin to put this back together again? What is our life going to look like now?
Change is necessary. Without change, growth would not exist. And I want to grow, learn, and thrive. While I sit here viewing the pieces of our life’s puzzle unsure of how to put it all back together, I also know that the responsibility of starting over is not completely on our shoulders. We have someone much bigger and far more powerful to direct our steps. Although our life has been changed forever, our desires, hopes, and wishes still remain. And we will continue to stand firm on the dreams God has placed in our hearts. He put them there for a reason. God places those dreams into our hearts, and we follow stride, developing goals of how to see them become a reality. Sometimes God allows change so that our dreams birth bigger fruit.
Changing the circumstance can often change the size of the dream… and I have a feeling that through this diagnosis our dreams have become exponentially bigger. We dreamed of children, but only expected to have them the “traditional” way. Now, our future story of children is much bigger and far better than we could have ever imagined. We dreamed of making a difference in other people’s lives, but had no clue of how that could happen. God saw that dream, and drastically enlarged the outcome. I knew I dreamed of having a purpose, and because God knew that, He surprised me in making my purpose something so much greater than I ever knew possible.
Although I am still confused and can’t begin to see the picture of our future, I know our dreams will enter the journey at some point. I don’t know when or how, but my God is faithful, and if I can learn to sit in this gap between dreams and fruition, I know rewards are coming.
Lamentations 3:25-27 (MSG Version)
“God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.”