There’s some interesting realities about a cancer diagnosis that I never realized would happen. When we first got the news, I truly felt like, “Ok, I got this. Just a bump in the road. I’m gonna beat this with a positive attitude and upbeat spirit! Wooo!!” And while I try to remain as positive as possible through this, there are the day to day realities of cancer that keep pulling me back to a place of realism rather than my initial idealism.
1. Ok, like I said, at first I found it really easy to be upbeat. But I think I was still a little in denial. I mean, I had this big scary diagnosis, but for the most part I felt fine and I still looked normal and, well, nothing seemed different. Then came the surgery, and all the words being thrown around were decidedly un-cancery (yes, I made that up. Deal with it! Haha). The words were “parotid”, “lymph nodes”, “flap”, “swelling”, things like that. And now, all that has changed. There’s words like “chemo” and “prognosis” and “recurrence” being the main points of conversation. Yikes. As easy as it was at first to be happy and fun at my appointments, now I often find myself fighting back tears. This just got real. Ok, I know, wah wah wah!! My point is just that, the deeper we go into this, the harder it is to keep the eternally positive attitude. I did not at first realize how hard the day by day, hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute thought process of constantly choosing hope and positivity is. Constantly. It is not something that flows naturally, at least not for me anymore. But I think that’s ok. What I’m gaining is wisdom and perspective, and it’s pretty neat. I am so comforted by Hillsong’s Oceans, “You call me out upon the water. The great unknown, where feet may fail. And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.” This song blows me away. I sometimes wonder if the person who wrote it was going through something similar to me because it really speaks to me on a special level. This process can be a bit much at times.
2. By the end of this, I feel like I will make a great oncologist!! Of course I’m joking, but in all seriousness, if you walk in there knowing nothing (like I did), you get a crash course in a very complicated thing. Cancer is crazy and hard to understand, and every doctor tries to explain everything. Which of course is great! But it’s a bit overwhelming. My brain never fully came back after having the kids, so it is a struggle to try to keep info in. You may be asking, why don’t you write it all down? This brings me to my next point.
3. I have given up!! Not in any important sense, but in the trying to understand part and the being diligent about writing everything down and whatnot. It’s too much. There’s too many appointments and too many doctors. I am at the point where I’m just showing up, letting them do whatever, then biding my time til the next appointment. I don’t know anything about how people typically deal with this stuff, but it’s too much to think about, so I’m just trying to remember what I need to know so I can keep people up to date and answer basic questions. That’s all. I’m not researching anything, I’m not checking google images anymore, I’m just leaving it to the experts.
4. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on the mission! I know God wants me to go through this for whatever reason. It’s really hard not to overthink this aspect of it. What if I mess these opportunities up? I had become very used to a comfortable and predictable (for the most part) ministry life through church. After almost 6 years in youth ministry, I felt like I had that somewhat under control. I am prepared for the things the teens may ask or may be facing. With this, I am constantly worried I am going to miss opportunities to show love to people because I’m so caught up in myself and will drop the ball somehow. This is not “relatioship based” the way teen ministry is. That’s my favorite part! Getting to know the teens and building relationships with them. And, not to brag, but the teens at our church have a long history of being super amazing 🙂 So, now that I go to Philly all the time, I feel like God wants me to do something there. I just haven’t figured out what yet. As many people (doctors, receptionists, nurses, techs, other patients, etc) as I have seen there, you hardly ever see the same people twice. Maybe I’m giving this all too much thought, but I believe that God’s purpose in this is real and I want to find what it is and to Him be the glory! So yeah, if I could just figure that out….
5. And now the hardest part so far: this is starting to affect my kids. This is where I get emotional. Up until recently, I felt like I was able to keep the two things very seperate. There was my home life and my cancer life. That’s why the kids didn’t show up in this blog much, there was a distinct and intentional disconnect. But the two are increasingly intersecting and I fear I soon won’t be able to shelter my kids from this anyore. If you don’t already know, we have a one year old daughter and a three year old son. Every parent thinks their kids are the sweetest, cutest, and funniest kids on the planet. And who am I to break that proud tradition? (; Our kids are the best. And my mama bear instinct is to shield them from this. But kids are sensitive, and they know something is up. Our son has regressed in potty training and cries and thrashes sometimes at night, presumably nightmares. Maybe it’s not related, but something tells me it is. Our daughter is super clingy to me. Maybe she would have been anyway, but it’s hard not to attribute some of it to all this. There have been no “talks” with them. Our son knows that mommy goes to the doctor a lot (I’m not going to lie to him), but of course we haven’t tried to tell him anything beyond that. But maybe subconsciously he is putting some things together, even of it’s no more than that things just aren’t the quite same anymore. Now that radiation is soon starting, I worry things will only get harder on them. Luckily, there is no shortage of people who love these kids and want the best for them, so when I can’t physically be there, there is a loving family member stepping up and taking great care of them
This post is not meant to come across whiny or like I’m complaining, cuz I’m really not. There are amazing and beautiful blessings that are evident in every aspect of this. I was just finding these things very interesting and surprising, especially some of my thoughts and reactions to things. As someone who finds the human psyche fascinating, I am intrigued by my own reactions. I guess you really never do know how you will react until you go through something. I am super curious about how other people deal with these things (feel free to comment and let me know!!) And there are definitely people that have it worse! Like, way worse. Of course, it’s not a competition or anything, but it helps me to keep that in mind.
Anyway, I’ll stop blabbing cuz this is getting long. I feel like this has come across negative, so to lighten things up, here’s a pic of Buck and Mater begging for food (: