Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Birthdays are a Blessing

I just had my birthday a couple of days ago. By habit, I almost began to dread it, and that's just because I was focused on that "number." But very, very quickly, my attitude changed. Birthdays are a blessing! I had to tell that to myself once or twice, but it sunk in. I only had to remember what it felt like a year ago.

Last year, two days before my birthday, we received my sarcoma diagnosis. Round #2 with cancer was here. I wrote in my journal "Back on the Roller Coaster." That's what battling cancer is like - a roller coaster ride. There are so many ups and downs, thrills and scary parts, and yep, even some laughter. But it's all there. It's quite a ride.

This year on my birthday, it was difficult remembering where we were a year ago. Difficult in the sense that all those emotions are still simmering just below the surface. It was so easy to recall how we felt in 2009. We were facing such an unknown.

But it's already been a year since diagnosis. In some ways it seems like yesterday, but for the most part, it feels like a year. So much has happened. And the roller coaster ride has definitely settled down to a straight-away. Only a few dips and curves recently.

It was quite a year, birthday-to-birthday. In the long run, I'm glad to have that first year behind me. To know I'm able to keep moving forward.

Although being on the cancer roller coaster has changed me (how could it not!), I still feel like me. Yes, there are physical changes because of the surgery, but I have to laugh today because my biggest complaint is my weight! Gee, that doesn't sound any different than most of the women I know. So, I'm changed, yet I'm "normal."

My sweet husband was looking at me last (really looking), and he said "I don't know why we were so worried about this." (This indicating my chest). He stated that my surgery didn't make any difference. He said "you're still here -- and you're still you."

So, bring on the birthdays -- bring on the blessings of every day. A few more scars don't make a difference in my every day life -- heck, I hope they make me even stronger. I'm a survivor.

God is good and Birthdays are a blessing.

Keep on Truckin' everyone...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bravery and the "new" Normal

My daughter said the coolest thing to me the other day – she commented that I had been through so much over the last year and that she could tell I was very brave and getting braver. What a nice thing to hear! (Of course, I’m blessed with awesome kids.)

But she got me to thinking … am I brave? While undergoing testing and surgery, you almost have no choice but to go with the flow and get through everything. You have to suck it up, find courage and deal with it all.

Now, all of that is done. And I’m facing the question of how am I going to spend the rest of my life. This “new” normal is tricky some days. Yes, you want to take the bull by the horns and just go for it in life. Yet other times, well, it’s difficult to make plans. You’re almost afraid to plan too far into the future and get your hopes up. It takes a long time for this cloud of cancer to quit hanging above your head. In the back of your mind, you wonder is my cancer coming back? Am I really through with all of this?

I know what many of you are thinking: then why not go for the gusto with your life? It seems so easy, doesn’t it?

Well, maybe this is all a good sign that I’m getting back to “normal.” (As my doctor said today: Normal is good. We like normal and boring!). Right now, I’m more concerned about putting together a perfect book proposal to present to an editor that I had a casual conversation with last week. Hence, the reason my daughter said I was getting braver. I’m not sure I would’ve had the nerve to ask about sending her a book proposal before this. I’m nervous about continuing my writing career – about really making a go of it. Yet, I can’t quite imagine doing anything else.

So, in reality, I guess I’m no different than anyone else contemplating their future. Wow – is this really what normal feels like??

If so, then it’s time to let this fear go – ALL OF IT! Fear of cancer, fear of failure…fear of success…. It’s time to show just how brave I can be. Of course, there is no bravery – there is no courage without God.

God and my faith ARE my “new” normal.