Friday, September 9, 2011

"The Big C"

 Today marks my one year cancerversary. I can't tell you how blessed I feel to be here today able to write about my life and how much its changed in one short year. I'll never forget the day that I received that call and was told I had the “big c” cancer. Not that I was surprised because I was 99% sure that is what I would hear when I picked up my phone to answer it on September 9th 2010. In fact I would have been more surprised if I had been told that it wasn't cancer. For those out there with IBC you know what I mean; this cancer has a life of its own. That day was surreal and so were the days that followed. It was as if I was living in slow motion while everything around me was going at supper stealth speed. I sat there and watched people buzz around me using tons of words I had never heard of and telling me about treatments and medications and only about every 24th word registered as English. It was a hard time and yet Shawn and I had this peace about us that everything would be ok. Sure we didn't know how I would handle treatments or really just what all the treatments would entail and frankly we didn't really even know if I would physically survive and beat this cancer but we knew that in the end it didn't matter because we had the other “Big C” on our side...Christ. While we prayed before and after the biopsy that everything would turn out fine we also prayed that if it was in fact cancer that we would be able to accept it and to use it as a way to reach out to others, to share our faith with those around us. We prayed over and over that no matter what the results were of the biopsy that we would praise Him.

Today I’m still praising Him and celebrating one of the greatest most life changing moments in my life. Was I happy to hear that I had cancer. No. Not at all. Had I hoped that I would hear good news from the other end of the line? Of course! Did I cry as I hung up the phone? Absolutely! Was I full of questions? Well yea who wouldn't be? Its not as if it was an easy transition to make but at the same time having the “Big C” in our lives before hearing I had the “big c” made it all seem easier to take in. I have spent the day looking back on the last year and I'm so happy that it turned out the way it did. I’m thrilled that I'm here writing and telling the world about my journey. I can't help but wonder how hard fighting the “big c” would have been without the real “Big C” in my life. Today I played my playlist of praise songs that have become one of my greatest comforts over the last year. Not all of them are praise songs but they all are inspirational. I played this list over and over as I dealt with three sick kiddos and disinfected the house today. What a way to celebrate huh? As I got to one of our China hutches and began cleaning it off I picked up the stack of cards that sit there. I have saved every card I have received since this whole cancer thing started. One of my Aunts sent a card with one of my favorite scriptures on it and I'm betting that she didn't even know this was one that I have always loved and that I had quoted often to myself. Romans 8:28 says “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose”. It was going back over these cards a little while back as I have done so many times over the last year that this one made me stop and put them all down and pull out my bible. How long had it been since I had really studied the book of Romans I'm not sure but here I sat reading it, taking in every chapter and every word, I read things that I had somehow missed many times before. In particular was Romans 5:2-5 “We also have joy with our troubles because we know that these troubles produce patients and patience produces character and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts”. did I miss this so many times. I often quote James when talking about perseverance. Don't get me wrong I love that James talks about perseverance and says to “consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds” and continues to say that perseverance makes you “mature and complete not lacking anything” and while I still love that scripture I think this one better describes both the journey with the “big c” but also my ongoing journey with the “Big C” because it talks of our trials and not just finding joy in them like James says also but because it talks about it producing patients and character and hope. Those my friends are things that you learn from cancer. I'm not saying I'm a patient person in fact I'm far from it but I'm a heck of a lot more patient now than I ever was. I think that my character though it still has a ways to go is also far better than it used to be. There is a song out there by Sammy Kershaw that happens to be on my play list called “Better Than I Used to Be” The lyrics of this song describe me to a T. I encourage you to look this song up sometime and listen to it. The first verse says:

“I know how to hold a grudge\I can send a bridge up in smoke
And I can't count the people I've let down
Or the hearts I've broke
You ain't gota dig too deep if you want to find some dirt on me
But I'm learnin' who you've been ain't you you've gotta be
Its gonna be an uphill climb
but Honey I won't lie

I ain't no angel
But I've been sittin out a few more dances with the devil
and cleanin' up my act little by little
I'm getting there
I can finally stand the man in the mirror I see
I ain't as good as I'm gonna get
But I'm better than I used to be

I’m so happy that that God has spent the last year humbling me. It was in my trials and my weakness that I learned who I am. That I was able to reflect on my character and not only what it was but what I wanted it to be. I’m so thankful that as the song says “I’m learnin’ who you’ve been ain’t who you’ve gotta be” I have joy that my troubles with the “big c” have helped become this new person and that never could have happened without the “Big C” in my life. Its His grace and love that covers us from all those mistakes in the past. Maybe sometimes its not even mistakes as much as it is not doing everything you can to fulfill His purpose. Just as it says in Romans it is certainly from building my character during my trials that I have found hope. Hope that if we unite and dedicate our time, energy and resources we can someday find a cure for cancer. Hope that we can change who we are. Hope that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose”. Hope that we can make a difference in the lives of those around us. Hope that “I ain’t as good as I’m gonna get…but I’m better than I used to be”

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