It’s My Cancer-versary…

There are lots of things in my life that are amazing and awesome, but this is downright unbelievable.  It’s crazy.  Insane, actually.  Today marks 3 years since I was diagnosed as having advanced stage malignant melanoma.  So much has happened (and if you’ve been with me from the beginning you’re well aware of that) but as I soaked it in today through all of the wonderfully mundane things I did, I realized that so much is the same.  How can this be?  How can my life look so normal?  It’s unfathomable (don’t worry, I’ll run out of adjectives eventually…)

It’s wild to think that three years ago today I was at work in our church office with my cell phone right beside me just waiting for it to ring.  I already knew.  I knew I was sick but there was that small glimmer of hope that they were just wrong.  That the biopsy would show the lymph nodes were benign.  That it was all just a crazy scare.  

I’ll never forget taking that phone call.  Hearing those words.  Trying to soak in everything it means to have cancer while also just trying to figure out the logistics of getting an appointment at Penn and the scans I’d need to rule out more metastasis.  How would I get there?  Who would watch the kids?  What am I supposed to tell my one and two year old?! It was right then that I learned that dealing with cancer is an existential awakening as well as a logical, practical process.  There were steps and protocol and buttloads of appointments.  Appointments for days.  And scans.  And more appointments.  More specialists.  Endless specialists.  (Here we learn how good it is to have cancer in America.  We are fortunate to have this level of care and for that I’ll always be grateful.)

It’s been 1,059 days since I heard the words, “You have cancer.”  And not any part of that was easy.  Not physically, not emotionally, not relationally, not spiritually.  The surgery, the radiation, the chemo.  All of it was awful.  It was awful for me and everyone who knew me.  I don’t say that to sound conceited, but you don’t realize it until you have it that cancer affects everyone you know.  And it’s hard to watch.

And then came that little part where we were told it’s terminal.  I’m going to die.  And not in the philosophical sense of “oh we are all dying aren’t we?” but in the “buy a burial plot, tie up all the loose ends that you can, and look at these hospice pamphlets” sort of way.

I was told I wouldn’t live past Christmas 2014.  That was when they found my brain tumor and I was told the cancer was “exploding in my body”.  They would try to slow it down, try to control it of they could, try to zap it as it popped up, but at the end of the day, the term “quality of life” was thrown around much more than one would like to hear when they are 30 and with a young family.  

669 days.  I’m 669 days past my expiration date.  669 glorious, beautiful, painful, crazy, wonderful days.  It’s absolutely baffling.  It’s something that makes me want to stand up and cheer and it’s something that without exception brings shame and guilt.  Every single time I hear about someone who has passed from cancer, all I can think is “it’s not fair. That should be me.”  Survivor’s guilt is real, and it is painful.

But I’ve grown.  I’ve loved more radically.  I’ve reached out more.  Been a better mother and wife because of this.  I’ve been able to watch my kids grow and learn and be awesome little people.  I know people who don’t like to think of their cancer as a journey, and that’s ok.  But for me it absolutely has been.  I’ve allowed the Lord full control of my entire life and have trusted the Spirit in times when I could not possibly do things myself.  I’ve learned that God has a sense of humor in that I’ve been privileged enough to have been able to (and continue to) share my story in many churches and at cancer events.  I hate public speaking, but I love the Lord and wish to be some small part of furthering His kingdom so I’ve (sometimes with grumbling) agreed to do His will here for as long as I possibly can.  I’ve learned how to say yes to God, unquestioningly.  And that’s been the best part.  

And I’ve learned that, above all and through everything, my only goal is to spread hope.  I wish I could honestly say that I was interested in giving people hope that they may survive cancer.  But I can’t and won’t do that.  Because I never want to lie to people.  But I will absolutely tell people about the hope in Christ.  The hope of peace, purpose, and a love that surpasses anything Hollywood can concoct.  Hope in something very real and absolutely true.  And hope that through Him, our sufferings are not in vain.

I’m still here.  I don’t understand any of this, and of course my prognosis is still guarded, but I don’t feel cancery.  I don’t feel like someone with cancer.  Although mentally it will always be there and physically it’s statistically very likely to be an issue again in the near future, I feel good.  And have peace.  And, Lord willing, tomorrow I will celebrate 670 days past my expiration date.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this with me.  Whether walking alongside me physically or just hearing of my story and praying.  I just love you all so much.  

Happy Cancerversary to me…

Just a month before diagnosis. Blissful ignorance…
After my first radiation treatment (and about 1 month post neck dissection surgery)
I know it’s gross, but this is what radiation does, folks
Zapping my brain tumor with gamma knife
Dat port tho

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat ❤

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30 thoughts on “It’s My Cancer-versary…

  1. Kim, thanks for the update! You’d been on my mind lately wondering how you were doing. I’ll continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. God bless, Linda

  2. Thanks so much for letting me pray for you and walk along with you on your journey. For wearing my praying for Kim shirt to work when you have a test or scan. Your family is so beautiful and GOD has more plans for all of you. I LOVE you guys.

  3. Your story is amazing and one we all need to hear. You are blessed indeed and I am thankful for you and your willingness to be transparent. You have a beautiful family. Here’s to the future.❤️

  4. We have enjoyed watching you and the kids standing at the bus stop and celebrate every new day with you. The Lord has a purpose for us all, sometimes we struggle to know what it is. So happy you have been led to talk about your story, it helps many understand that walking with our Lord during hard and easy times is what we should do.
    You celebrate 3 years, Adele is coming up to 9 years since her cancer was found and almost 3 years since her doctor at Johns Hopkins said, ‘You do not need to come back next year, you are in total remission for five years!’
    I thank God every day for my wife and having more time with her.

  5. So glad to see you are celebrating your cancer-versary! God has more plans for you. I will continue to pray for you and your family.

  6. Your story is incredible! I met you at Walmart a few weeks ago 😉 Still think you should write that book!! Even if it is just a collection of your blog posts!! May God bless you as you live your life for HIM to the fullest!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing! My mom just got her first official NED. She is guarded about the results, waiting for the shoe to drop again. But I appreciate the victory of little victories in the battle of stage 4 melanoma.

  8. God bless you Kim. I have been following you since the beginning of your journey. I understand all too well what you are going through. I am Terri Andrew’s Aunt Francine. I share my ” bump in the road” hoping to help that one person who wants to give up. Continued prayers for you Kim and your family. I know I have told Terri this, but I just wanted you to know that I was one of those people you helped by sharing your story. You inspired me 22 months ago when my new normal life began.

  9. Hooray! Hooray!! Hooray!!! I just love seeing you and Britt taking Evan to the bus stop. Doing normal Mommy things! Blessings to you and your family!!! Lots of hugs………..Adele

    m: Kim’s Blog [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] Sent: Monday, October 24, 2016 10:49 PM To: adele10@ptd.net Subject: [New post] It’s My Cancer-versary…

    morelikecantcer posted: “There are lots of things in my life that are amazing and awesome, but this is downright unbelievable. It’s crazy. Insane, actually. Today marks 3 years since I was diagnosed as having advanced stage malignant melanoma. So much has “

  10. Bless you Kim you have been an inspiration to all who have met you. Your faith has brought you where you are today. Our focus need to be doing God will. So congratulations on 670 days of Cancer-adversary. I watch you through this journey and know the family.I also know how hard it was on them. You are loved. Love you Kim. Barb

  11. Hi Kim. I attempted to leave a comment early this am but it didn’t post. This is an incredible tribute to the Lord and your testimony of faith. Thank you for sharing. I am sure this is encouraging to everyone – not only people who are in the battle right now. Your honesty and vulnerability has been a blessing to my heart. That’s who Jesus is. You have invited us to be up close and personal with the most difficult journey this life can bring. Keep on sharing. I love seeing your family grow. What a testimony to marital fidelity and living that covenant promise “for better or worse” Kudos to Eric. Blessings to all of you!

  12. Incredible glad to hear your story.!

    So similar to mine I could hardly believe it!

    I am 58 years old and live in Buenos Aires, Argentina
    When I was a child cancer meant death for most people

    Science progressed and for me cancer was not anymore synonymous of death but metastasis was it. In jun 19th 2013 after CTscan, PET and biopsy I read what I didn’t want; melanoma metasis in lymphs nodes. I left the laboratory whistling the funeral march.

    I went thru five metastasis: lymph nodes (resection and radiotherapy), brain (resection and radiotherapy in the whole brain), left adrenal (resection) and metabolic traces subcutaneous that became nodes inside the right thigh close to the bone (radiotheraphy) and subcutaneous in my back (radiotheraphy). These last three in six months.

    In 2013 my Dr. told me “you are in good shape I can’t give anything good just wait and we will see how this keeps on going”. after the new metastasis in the adrenal he gave me ipilimumab with no side effects but poor results.

    I began with keytruda in December 28th 2015; almost at the same time I had the CTscan for the planning of the radiotherapy in my back. This scan (with just two doses of keytruda) showed the node in my back was almost half of the size of the previous scan.

    After months of nodes and continuous treatments including ipi;
    suddenly, with keytruda no more nodes and more clear images.

    God responses to prayers, medicine is running faster than melanoma, Drs. have good tools to take care of us, family and friends give us love and support.

    What else than giving the best of us!

    I learnt to celebrate every day.

    Each new keytruda doses (15 so far) is a gift,

    Each small milestone is hapiness

    I hope we could keep on walking this same blessed way.

    I expect I could celebrate in December 28th. pembroversay as you did with cancerversary repeating tis year to year (especially you that are so young)

    Best Wishes,

    Willie

  13. Wow. Beautiful post. (You’re an excellent writer, by the way!) I’m in tears… praising God for the miraculous work he has done in you, and through you. It’s so amazing, so awesome!!!

  14. Kim–I want to thank you for your faith and your honesty. My husband went home to Jesus on October 19 after a valiant fight for 4 years and 7 months. We also were told a couple of times to “go home and get your affairs in order”. But God had other plans. He used this awful disease to bring our family closer together, to restore and build my and my husband’s faith and to touch many other lives through our journey. I feel Jesus’ and my husband’s presence with me every day. I long for the day when we are all together in heaven with no pain and no sorrow. But I know that I have the obligation to continue to share and spread the kingdom here on earth. I pray continued blessings on you and your family. I understand about survivor’s guilt but focus on the blessings….one day at a time. God’s blessings continue to shower upon you. Joyce

  15. I have been waiting for an update from you, dear friend. I thought in my heart and mind that you were going through another health crisis. Praise the Lord, you are fine. I have friends and relatives who are fighting all different forms of cancer – bladder, prostate, liver, breast and lymphoma. I pray for all as I pray for you. Have a fun day with your beautiful family.

  16. I can’t even remember how I found your blog. I think it may have been on a rando search of Hillsong 🙂 I’ve stopped over the years to visit and hear your words of hope and faith. I’m glad to visit today to share your joy for every bit of “bonus time” since Christmas 2014. Virtual hugs to you for living well, and choosing love. Thank you for sharing your journey with the folks like me. In your neighborhood (Maryland), but nowhere where our in person lives would intersect.

  17. If melanoma patient lives cerain amount of time (3 years I think). Cancer is very unlikely to kill you after that. Not sure how or why, but that it what srudies say. At first I hoped that this would be because of Keytruda, but looks like this is quality of melanoma.

  18. Your story is an inspiration. My mom was diagnosed with terminal stage cancer and it really helps reading about the experiences other people have or had with cancer.

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