It’s been two years since the breast cancer was surgically removed from my body. In so many ways, it feels as if it were just yesterday…all the pain, fear, and confusion can wash over me as quickly as a tidal wave–if I allow it–crushing all the energy and life right out of me.
In fact, as I look back over the past year, I realize just how far I have come from those days of darkness and confusion. I am now more confident in who I am, stronger and more resolved in the things I want to accomplish, more willing to sacrifice the immediate for greater goals.
The battle against breast cancer is not only a battle against an unseen disease–it is a battle FOR life! All of life, all that life holds. The promise, the joy, the sorrow, the pain, the loss, the laughter and the tears. My battle was not only to beat cancer and death, but to GAIN life. I had become complacent…lazy…tired…BORED. Life was just simply getting up, going through the routine, going to bed, and doing it all over again. There were highs and lows, goods and bads, but really it was just routine. When my cancer diagnosis hit me like a blinding light I had to face who I was, what life had become, and who I truly wanted to be. Whether I was fighting for the mundane order of my life to continue, or if I wanted LIFE, real life–in all its fullest and messiest sense–to find me. Very early in the diagnosis, I realized that I wanted to LIVE. Really live…not just going through the motions. Not just swimming slowly upstream, to my death, with the rest of the fish in the stream. I want to LIVE. I want to have fun…I want to see things in a new way…I want to experience each moment as if it were my last one. I want to get messy with life. Big sloppy wet kisses, mud pies, rolling in the autumn leaves, dancing in the rain…exciting, spontaneous, exhilarating…life. Every moment is to be savored, treasured, enjoyed to its fullest extent…the good, the bad, the in-between. This is life.
As you have seen throughout my journey, I am a follower of Christ. I believe in a hereafter. I believe there is a perfect heaven at the end of this rocky road. I also believe, as a Christian, I am to savor the life He has given me NOW. Trying to make my world a little bit brighter, a little bit sweeter, a little more perfect along the way. This is what I have learned through battling breast cancer. I am a survivor…a warrior…I am a life worth living.
I’m also nothing special, nothing different from every other human in existence. We are all designed to be survivors, warriors…most importantly, lives worth living. It’s not about big and bold statements. Although, some people are destined to make them. It’s not about huge, high-minded changes in the world. Although, there are those in this world who are created to do that very thing. It’s simply about learning to live the tapestry of our lives with as much joy as we can hold…and then fill it to overflowing.
Our world is full of amazing things, in each and every breath we take there is beauty and miracle. In yoga, you learn to take each breath consciously…breathing deeply and slowly through the nose, exhaling fully from the mouth. Savoring the breath, the moment, the life-giving force flowing through the air you inhale. This is what living is all about. Savor each breath. Savor each moment. Taste it. Feel it. LIVE it. Then move on to the next.
This chapter in my life is gradually coming to a close. For those of us with triple negative breast cancer, the serious danger of recurrence is in the first three years–I have one year to go. While I cannot in all honesty tell you that I face each doctor’s checkup with confidence…sometimes they frighten me almost to tears…I can tell you that with each passing visit, I am stronger.
Stronger physically, as I have worked hard to build my body back after the effects of chemotherapy and radiation…and after years of lazy neglect before the diagnosis. Stronger mentally, as I have learned to face the challenges of life with a little more grace and patience. Stronger spiritually, as I learn anew each day to rely on my Savior for the ultimate strength I need to face whatever life brings–even cancer.
The fear that cancer will return never fully leaves my mind, but I refuse to allow it control my life. Thank you for walking through this season of life with me…for sharing my fears, my pains, my joys. Life, more than anything, is meant to be shared. Every wonderful, exhilarating, messy moment means nothing in the giant scheme of things, unless it is shared with others to create a memory that lasts throughout time.
My final thought to share with you…the words that came to my mind each and every day throughout this journey…I would even draw them on the steamy wall of the shower…LOVE LIFE!
For each and every one of you, and for me as well, this is my lifelong prayer…that you will truly learn to LOVE LIFE! In your own, wonderful, wild and unique way. May God richly bless us all…oh wait, He already has…He gave us LIFE! Enjoy!