As tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, upon reflection, I feel like I am a completely different person now than I was then. So much so that I wanted to write a letter to myself to prepare me for October 24th, 2013.
October 23rd, 2013
Tomorrow you will be diagnosed with cancer. You will receive a call from the Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist while you are at work and she will confirm that there is cancer in your lymph nodes, metastasis from the melanoma lesion that you had removed in 2011. She will as kindly and compassionately as possible try to convey the severity of the disease, but you will try to shrug it off. She will insist on you seeing a specialist in Philadelphia, and you’ll nod along because, well, you don’t know a darn thing about cancer.
Oh, sweet naive Kim, you just have no idea what the next year will have in store for you. There will be more physical pain involved than you’ve ever had to deal with in your life, and you will be stripped down emotionally to a depth that you’ve never experienced before and would never want to experience again. You will feel vulnerable, and attacked, and carry a sadness that you’ve never known before. You will lay awake at night and tears will stream uncontrollably down your face as you plead with God to let you stay with your babies for as long as possible. You will progress to stage 4 and it will feel like getting pushed off a cliff.
You are naive, and stupid, and you just don’t get it. Surgery, radiation, chemo #1, seizures, brain tumor and other mets, gamma knife, chemo #2 and scan after scan after scan. Some days will seem like just a whirlwind and you’re doing your best to keep up. Some days will go so slowly and you will feel so isolated and alone, no matter who may be in the room with you. You will, with every passing holiday and birthday, sit and wonder if you will be around to see the next one. You’ll have seizures so severe that they cause permanent damage and you’ll be so tired and in pain some days that you don’t even want to get out of bed.
But you do.
You will find that this gut-wrenching experience will hold more blessings than you ever thought possible. You will, for the first time in your life, have to fully rely on God for everything. And He will be faithful. Every time. You will feel more loved and supported by your friends and family and church and neighbors and even some people that you don’t know, but who are burdened for you and care about you. You will want for nothing and in allowing yourself to be stripped to the bone emotionally, you will experience God’s presence so closely that you will spend your days striving for more and more of Him. Many things will begin to make sense, and many pieces of the puzzle will come together, and you will grow in your faith more than you ever imagined possible.
You will feel broken and whole. You will feel uneasy and fulfilled. You will learn to break the cycle of trying to control your own faith and God will break through and reveal things to you that you don’t feel you deserve to know. You’ll realize that you have no strength to fight this on your own, but that God himself will sustain you each and every day and that He will nudge His people to take care of you on so many levels. Your marriage will be strengthened beyond what you thought possible and you’ll realize that it isn’t just your fight, it’s everyone who loves you’s fight too. You will make so many new friends and you will reconnect with old friends, it’s really pretty awesome.
Great things will happen! Both your sister and sister in law will get married and you’ll welcome a new beautiful baby niece and find out another sweet little niece or nephew is on the way. You will realize that living with cancer is still living. And for that you should be grateful.
You will find your purpose in this. You will be pushed and you will be reluctant sometimes, but God will guide you. You will experience miracles. Yes, you will!
You can do this. You’ve got this.