Cancerland

A place where chemo drips freely. Hair is a rare sight to be seen. Tubes, treatment, and trials are common occurrences. Hospital bands are shackles bound to the arms of warriors. And cancer is everywhere.

Welcome to Cancerland.

As I sit here receiving my fourth chemotherapy treatment this season (34th overall), I can’t help but look around, witnessing how cancer has affected the lives of so many. It’s everywhere. Rampant like a rabid monster ferociously feeding on the innocent. Moving its way through the nooks and crannies of both young and old generations. No care that it’s unwelcome. No fear of opposition. No worries in the world.

Once diagnosed, patients, including myself, are immediately propelled into Cancerland. Slingshotted into the abyss, with doctors accompanying us on all sides. Our medical knowledge, once novice, becomes an integral part of our vernacular, and soon we are spouting terms like “hemoglobin,” “neuropathy,” “large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma,” and “CBC.” We become aware what it feels like when our white cells are low, and we equate a shortness of breath to a lack of red blood cells. We become accustomed to aches and pains, leg spasms, and a variety of rare side effects. We ingest pills, supplements, and other magical potions as if they were candy.

This is life. If only we could watch fireworks, eat a chocolate covered frozen banana, and leave the park at the end of the day to crawl into bed outside the gates of Cancerland. However, this disease embeds itself into the pages of our story. It becomes a part of us. A part of our journey. Enveloped in our trials. Overcome in our triumphs. It never leaves us. The shadow of cancer follows us no matter how far we run and no matter how well we hide.

Yet as I am surrounded by my fellow patients, I sense a spirit of camaraderie. We are an army fighting against this horrendous beast. Gathering up arms and standing firm on the hope of success… On the hope of remission. Encouraging one another, exchanging tales of war from seasons past, and dreaming of a bright future. We are more than just patients. We are spouses, children, siblings, parents, and friends. We are people with dreams and goals. Praying to make it through the next year. Hoping for healing. Believing in salvation.

I am touched, moved, and honored to have such an inspiring army of survivors and fighters around me. Everyone who has ever heard the words, “You have cancer,” is immediately part of a unique fraternity. We can say, “nausea,” and as comrades we immediately understand this specific type of sickness. There is something special and deeply personal about the unsaid connection between those who have entered the gates of Cancerland. Some hold their ticket proudly. Some tuck their ticket deep into the crevasse of their pocket. Some try to throw their ticket away, only to find it reappearing every time. No matter if you are proud to be a survivor, in denial of the battle you are in, or not ready to face the fight ahead, we are all a part of this clandestine society.

As for me? I am proud. I have scars, wounds, physical reminders of what I have been through, and what awaits my future. I have aches and pains. I have neuropathy. My insides have been nuked more times than I can recall. My body no longer resembles its form prior to diagnosis. I have been bald, with hair, and bald again several times over. I have lost and gained friends. My life plans have been altered. I am infertile and menopausal. If given the choice on what I wanted my life to look like, cancer would be at the bottom of the list. However, I’m here. There’s no denying it. There’s no getting around it. I have been fighting cancer for the last two years of my life. But I have a choice. One of the largest decisions I have ever had to make and will have to make continuously over the course of my life. Do I want to be miserable? Or do I want to be joyful? Some may think this is not a choice, but I would adamantly challenge that stance. Though oftentimes we cannot choose our circumstances, we can choose our emotions.

I am proud to be a cancer patient…fighter…survivor. I am proud to say that no matter what, cancer will not win because I will never lose. I am proud to belong to this fraternity. My ticket to Cancerland will forever be displayed triumphantly in a frame over my life.

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

WARRIOR. (November 2013)

WARRIOR. (November 2013)

6 Comments on Cancerland

  1. John Bechtel
    December 27, 2013 at 7:21 PM (12 months ago)

    Stephanie I do not know you but I am in the fight with you. I pray for you often. God be with you.. John Bechtel

  2. SherryJ
    December 27, 2013 at 8:32 PM (12 months ago)

    LOVE the pic, Steph! You are, as ALWAYS, so beautiful! I’m so very glad you’re still around to fight, darlin…

    Sherry

    >

  3. Jim Black
    December 27, 2013 at 11:01 PM (12 months ago)

    You are truly an inspiration to both those fighting the disease and those who are not. Your beauty shines from deep inside you, that flows through your fingers and onto the page as you write ‘Derailing my Diagnosis.’
    ;We still lift up Prayers for you, and know that your Prayer Warriors are numerous. God Bless you in the coming year.

  4. colorado-glo2girl
    December 28, 2013 at 8:42 AM (12 months ago)

    Jim took the words right out of my head! You are such an inspiration to all of us. ….. Your love and connection to Lord comes through as does you beautiful spirit In all of your post. Continuing to pray for your journey and your recovery!!! Love & Blessings, Joyce Bilodeau

  5. Sylvia Douglas
    December 28, 2013 at 12:16 PM (12 months ago)

    Stephanie, I’m Rachael Douglas’ mom and have had the opportunity to meet you and to pray for you. I too have had my life altered by the diagnosis of cancer. As I read your blog I held it together until I read this line”If only we could…leave the park at the end of the day to crawl into bed outside the gates of Cancerland. ” That feeling is so unshakable. I described it as having a menasing storm cloud hanging over my head in the middle of a century flood. It attempts to block out the sun and the Son. It strives to cast a shadow of uncertainty and doubt over ones life and carries with it a barometric heaviness that at times seems unbearably suffocating. If only to escape Cancerland for a couple of hours, You describe it so well. I hope that you will find comport in the passage that I have leaned on so often. John 16:33 in The Message it says “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” Nothing will separate us form His love and His joy will be our strength. May you feel renewed strength by the prayers that surround you! Prayers and Blessings, Sylvia Douglas

  6. Heather
    December 29, 2013 at 4:45 PM (12 months ago)

    Love. YOU. You always leave me speechless and amazed.