Defeated. Triumphant. Confused.

One month before diagnosis. Completely unaware of what was to come. (December 2011)

One month before diagnosis. Completely unaware of what was to come. (December 2011)

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.

Looking drained and tired, but equally as excited on the last day of chemotherapy! (March 2013)

Looking drained and tired, but equally as excited on the last day of chemotherapy! (April 2013)

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.”

4 Comments on Defeated. Triumphant. Confused.

  1. Bill Rudel
    April 12, 2013 at 7:46 PM (11 years ago)

    You can witness. You, alone among all the people on earth have experienced exactly what you’ve written about here, Stephanie. You can give a first hand report, an eye witness account, of how suffering does not diminish faith, affliction hasn’t killed your desire to serve the Almighty God. Everywhere you go for the rest of your life, you are now a light to be shined on an eternal Truth, and you have the power and the license to preach it. You’ve earned your doctorate and you can attest to what you now know with authority and assurance.
    I know of a woman in Atlanta who needs what you know, desperately. Feed the sheep.

    Thank you so much for sharing this journey. How uplifted I’ve been. And, my prayer life is tuned up better than it’s ever been.

    Bill Rudel

  2. donnajeanne
    April 12, 2013 at 10:18 PM (11 years ago)

    Dearest Stephanie,
    this letter reads like the Psalms, all the emotions out on the page, pouring your heart out to God, and then focusing on Him again, as the remedy for all you are feeling, needing, going through.
    Give yourself and your husband some time now, to REST, to grieve, (the time and everything else that was lost), to be restored. Let the Lord lead you through the green pastures now, after you’ve come out of the valley of the shadow of death. Your emotions will be all over the map as a result of all the treatments. Our Lord knows exactly what you need right now. Can you take a vacation? Rest from the fight? May the Lord grant it! And you can delight in this, Stephanie, that your prayers have been heard, and you ARE making a difference for Him. Love and prayers for a renewal of your joy….it just might take awhile! :) Donna Jeanne

  3. Julie Hanna
    April 13, 2013 at 3:30 AM (11 years ago)

    Hey there baby – I am so proud of you and grateful to God that He can impart such courage and wisdom in the midst of such pain. I love you and pray for you sweet girl (and Matt)

    This is a little doxology type song that really spoke to my heart in a desperately sad and difficult time in my life perhaps it can soothe your soul in some small way as it has mine – it goes like this

    Jesus You’re all I want, You’re everything I’ve needed
    Jesus, In quietness I give you praise

    You draw me into Your peace, where nothing and no-one sees
    You speak to my heart, restore my soul, In quietness I give You praise

    You are peace, You are Joy, cause its Jesus Christ that’s living in me
    You are light, You are love, and its in You that now I am free

    Jesus You’re all I want, You’re everything I’ve needed
    Jesus, In quietness I give you praise, In quietness I give you praise, In quietness I give you praise

    Love and hugs x Mumma Jules

  4. Melinda
    April 13, 2013 at 8:42 AM (11 years ago)

    I love you Stefanie.


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