Today is my Cancerversary! One year of surviving breast cancer! Four rounds of two chemos, 4 surgeries, including a bilateral masectomy, reconstruction and I'm still here! I thank my Lord, Jesus Christ, and want to fulfill His purpose for my life; I thank the doctors who knew what to do and did it in such a compassionate way; and I thank the friends and family and strangers (many who became new friends) for supporting me and helping a bad time in my life become one of the most blessed times of my life! Some of you have no idea how much the support helped turn my life around at a point that I had just went through the most difficult year of my life and quite frankly, didn't care whether I lived or died. Without you in my life (you know who you are), I could have easily just given up on life. But, with your encouragement, but mostly your love and making me feel like I did matter, I made it and found joy. I will forever be grateful to so many.
This morning my dear daughter, Jennifer, woke me up with this surprise! How sweet of her to start my day with a reminder that I have survived a year since my cancer diagnosis!
I even forgave her for getting me out of bed...lol! The card was a Hallmark card that was a "Card for the Cure" and I loved what it said. I didn't even know they made cards for cancer, did you? The front said, "You're a fighter, a survivor, an inspiration..." and the inside says "Keep that close to heart...now, always.". Then she added "Happy Cancerversary". So sweet and meant a lot to me!
Sometimes I don't feel like such an inspiration....especially when I get depressed. I am a Christian. I know God has me in the palm of His hands. I tell myself I shouldn't get depressed because of His presence in my life. But, in reality, I do. In reality, even Christians struggle with things, including depression, in this world. There will be a world where those struggles will no longer be....but right now we are living in this world and are not immune from the pain and struggles we find ourselves in. I fight it and I do better most of the time. But, something can trigger it when least expected. It can simply be a family member....cousin, niece, etc.....not speaking to me when they see me. It can be a cousin telling me to let it go. And although I know deep inside what the truth is....they don't. You see, after my mom passed away in 2010, my family fell apart. I won't go into details other than to say I am not the one who caused it and I purposely would walk out of the room to keep from saying something I could not take back. You see, once words are out of your mouth, they can't be taken back and they can sting and cause a person to feel pain for a very long time....maybe even the rest of their life. Please think of your words carefully before you speak them and take time to ask yourself if they will cut like a knife. After my mom passed away, I was "cut like a knife". Rather than coming together to grieve as a family we were ripped apart by those who really had no place in the grief that only a child losing a parent can understand. We six siblings lost so much that day because of "outside influences"....we lost something we can never get back. We were not allowed to even grieve for the loss of our mother together. Even in spite of trying to be open to reconciliation, it didn't happen and I gave up. I had to move on for my own sanity.
It was hard and is still hard. It was hard when I was fighting cancer to have my own sister, living in the same town, to not even ask me how I was doing when she saw me. It was hard to feel like she didn't care, even when I had cancer. It was hard to think she didn't care if I died. It's still hard. It was hard watching her react to my brother-in-law's cancer when he was diagnosed six months ago and to know she never showed me that kind of care and concern. This was a sister who I was close to...who I shopped with...went to movies with....out to eat....only those close to you can hurt you this much.
But, the pain I deal with the most today doesn't come from the ones who "cut me like a knife" back then. The pain I deal with today comes from those who believe the lies and won't speak to me.....they weren't there so they have no idea of the truth....but yet they will no longer speak to me and act like they don't know me if they see me. I can deal with these people not being a part of my life...the hard thing to deal with is to know people are thinking I broke up my family after my parents died, which is the furthest thing from the truth. I loved my parents and it causes me so much pain to have people thinking I could disrespect them that much.
The pain I deal with today comes from the silence of the ones who were there and did nothing and still do nothing and want to act like it didn't happen rather than hold the ones responsible accountable. I know they just want it to "go away", but it never goes away for me, as I am the one treated so badly and being ostracized. As long as they are not held accountable, the lies continue and the pain continues and nothing is ever "fixed". I'm a firm believer that communication is the key to so many problems, but the fact is....my family is not good with communication. It seems easier for them to "sweep it under the rug" and act like it didn't happen....but that does not help anything. It does not make the pain dissappear. It does not erase the fact that it did happen. Silence is not always golden.
I don't feel so inspirational when I am feeling this way. I just went through some depression in the last few days and felt the pain all over again. I even wrote a long blog post about my feelings, but never posted it. I knew when I was writing it, that it may just be for ME. It was very therapeutic, actually. Many times I find writing my feelings down can help me release some of the pain.
I feel the pain every time Feb. 10 rolls around, as that is the day I lost my mother and it is also the day I lost some of my family and became a target of hate. I want to let it all go and do well at times. But, it's never totally gone and the pain can rear it's ugly head at any time, unexpectedly. It isn't something I want to remember....but how do you erase memories?....even bad ones? How do you ignore the fact that a family member will see you and not even speak and turn away? How can you ignore that some of your family didn't even care when you were fighting cancer? How can you ignore the interaction between your siblings with the ones who have caused so much pain and the inability to hold them accountable? As long as the ones who did these acts are not held accountable, then the lies are allowed to continue and the guilty ones take it as approval of their actions. And it makes me feel that I am not worthy enough to defend. These are the things that cause me the most pain. I loved my parents very much and would have never disrespected them in the way people think I did.
I'm not blogging about this today out of anger. I'm blogging about it because I feel I fall short of what God wants for my life and that is my fault. I know I am much, much happier when I am being an inspiration to others and helping others....rather than focusing on my own pain. I'm angry with myself that I have periods of times where I can't rise above this. I know God wants to take me above it and I have to trust Him. I have to learn to put my fleshly pain away for His purposes. I don't feel I can be an inspiration to anyone when I'm feeling this way. The fact is....I'm human and I still have these fleshly emotions. Yes, even Christians struggle.....not because our God cannot be trusted....but because we don't surrender everything to Him. And I know He sees my struggles and pulls me out of them. I know He knows the truth. That should be enough, but sometimes I give in to the fleshly desire to vindicate myself.
Today is a celebration for me! April 7, 2011, I heard the words "You have cancer" and entered into a world of "unknowns", not knowing if I could be cured or how long I would live. Cancer is a scary word to anyone. At the time, my doctor said it was her goal to give me another 20 years. Today marks one year of surviving since hearing those words. Not only surviving, but thriving! In spite of a few bouts with depression, I have been happier than I have been in years and God has brought me so many blessings that I recognize as His work in my life. I am not cured...no doctor has announced me as cured....and quite frankly, I don't know that cancer is curable. But, you can still live with NED (no evidence of disease) for years and maybe a lifetime. The fact is, no doctor can know for sure if it will ever return....the same as no doctor could have told me I'd get cancer in the first place. I am aware that it returns many times, but I have a good chance that it never will. And I am in God's hands. So, today I celebrate ONE YEAR!!!! I don't know how many more years I'll have, but I want to live them pleasing to God.
I will be celebrating at 5 pm today with my very first tattoo! I would have gotten my tattoo before now, but purposely wanted to wait for my one year Cancerversary. It's more than a tattoo to me....it is a forever reminder to me that I am a SURVIVOR! It will be on the inside of my wrist where I will see it every day. I do not want it hidden! It's not just a tattoo....it's a celebration of life! I hope to have a photographer there, because as you should know by now....I like to have pictures of EVERYTHING! I've been asked by others if I'm afraid (it's suppose to be painful...lol). and my honest answer is...NO! I know some of my friends don't understand my desire for a tattoo.....after all, many of us were raised in the sixties when tattoos were taboo. I was just like them....never thought I'd EVER have a tattoo! So, I understand where they are coming from and that they don't think they'd ever get one, but I appreciate that they are being supportive of me.
Until next time....celebrate life! You don't have to go through cancer to appreciate and celebrate life! And thank God for your blessings. If you get "down" just remember to not stay there. We all have things to deal with....the important thing is to not "live there". Always remember that your words can cut like a knife, so choose them wisely....they cannot be erased. Please forgive me for my times that I am weak. I am weak, but He is strong, so I'll be ok. I just need to keep my eyes on Him instead of my circumstances. Now...go out and get yourself a tattoo.....lol....just kidding!