Breathe in, Breathe out

Written Sunday, March 6, 2016
Today has been an emotional one. It started with my husband and I going to a friend’s church service dedicated to cancer survivors, loved ones gone on by this disease or currently fighting the battle. When we entered the scantuary there were sweet ladies that asked the question “are you a cancer survivor?”
Thirty-four years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer. I didn’t even know what it was at the time. My husband and I had one child and with much talking and prayer we decided I would get my tubes tied. It’s not an easy decision to make. Were we 100 percent sure we were making the right decision? No, probably not. But we made it together and an appointment was made.
I went to see my obgyn to talk with him about it. He did a pap smear, said he’d send it off to be analyzed and would be in touch. A few days later, I was called back to his office to have a biopsy of my cervix. My doctor went out of town, I went home and thought nothing else about it. That next Sunday night, my telephone rang. It was my doctor and he had my results. He asked me if I was sure I wanted my tubes tied and I said yes. He said he suggested a hysterectomy because of the cancer that had been so rampant in my Mother’s family. And so the surgery was set, I had the hysterectomy, leaving my ovaries, and that was it. I had no chemo or radiation. At this time, the only treatment other than hysterectomy was to freeze the cervix and there was no guarantee it would be successful. I was 23 years old with a two year old son and I had stage 4 cancer.
I rarely think about that time in my life that I stared death in the face. It really takes someone asking the question those sweet ladies at church did today that will bring it all back. After a few brief seconds, I said “Yes, I am.” I looked at my friend and asked her if she had forgotten I was a survivor and she said she had. It’s not usually the topic of conversation and so it goes on the “file for another day” in my mind. And on occasion, that file gets pulled and I realize just how fortunate I am. My Mama, Daddy, Mother-in-law, too many aunts, cousins and friends to count haven’t been as fortunate as me. I don’t really know why. All I can say is this, I believe my steps are ordered of the Lord. If David and I hadn’t decided to go the way we did, I probably wouldn’t be here today. It was a hard decision we had to make. We didn’t know where the road would take us, but the One that orders my steps knew. He led me to go to my doctor and for that stage 4 cancer to be found and taken out of my body.
This chapter will return to it’s filing place, tucked safely in the corner of my mind, until the next time I’m asked the question.
Yes. I am a cancer survivor.

 

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Life Goes ON

“We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them.”
― William Arthur Ward

I’ve had time to reflect on this life of mine since my last post.  Most days, I don’t even think about it.  But on the days I do….the questions just pour out of me.

I know people live with this truth every day, just like me.  I know people that are adopted.  Some have known the truth their entire lives while others learned later on.  Some know their birth parents, some don’t. The one thing I’ve learned is that we all process this information differently. I’m still trying to figure out how I process it.

I wasn’t adopted. I was accepted.  I think there’s a difference, but maybe not.  I’m still trying to figure it all out.

“When the pretty birds have flown,
And you feel hurt and alone,
Be strong and carry on,
And remember that life goes on.”
― Mouloud Benzadi

COURAGE

“What have they got that I ain’t got? COURAGE”-  The Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of Oz

I had never given the word much thought until July 2014 when my world as I knew it completely changed.

It happened through a long ago written letter by my Mama to her Aunt.  A letter that was never sent.  A letter written the day after I was born.  A letter that has been in my house since my Mama died in 1998.  It sat in a box with many other letters, in an envelope that was addressed but had no stamp.  One you really wouldn’t notice.  Obviously.

Why did it take me so long to open that envelope? I will never know.  But if I had known it’s contents, I may have never opened it.

If I had known the power of the words written on the pages 57 years earlier, if I had known.

COURAGE

“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but how much you are loved by others.”- The Wizard of Oz

Courage is defined as “having the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous.”  My questions is this-where do you find it?  Where does courage live? Is it in our hearts, our heads, our beliefs?  Is it just a fantasy, a dream we hope for, a fleeting emotion? Does courage define who we are? What we do? What we say?

“I think my mother… made it clear that you have to live life by your own terms and you have to not worry about what other people think and you have to have the courage to do the unexpected.”- Caroline Kennedy

I could have said this about my Mama too.

She did the unexpected.

She had the courage to follow through.

She had me.

And my “Daddy” was in Germany.

He didn’t know she was pregnant until he returned home.

He was gone two years.