Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy 3rd Cancerversary

This weekend we celebrated surviving 3 years since I was diagnosed! I remember that day like it was yesterday. My heart was so broken. I can't even describe how devastated I felt. For weeks I cried until tears came no more or until I fell asleep from pure exhaustion. As months passed, I remember waking up night after night, hoping it was just a nightmare. Unfortunately it was all too real.

As time continued we began to get a grip on our emotions and fell into a new routine involving lots of prayer, research, doctor appointments, treatments, surgeries, rest, and being the recipients of many different kinds of service.

In time, we developed a 'new normal' that brought us closer to God and closer to our family. One of the things we felt was important to teach the boys was to pray for miracles (not just one big miracle), so they could learn to see how God blesses us every day even if things didn't work out the way we wanted them to. That decision has been very important to us because it has shaped how Bruce and I count our blessings also.

As I look back over the past three years, I think about how my prayers have changed. Initially, the only thing that mattered was that I would be cured and that life would go back to how things used to be. I was so focused on being "cured" that I wasn't as appreciative for the blessings that I was receiving as I should have been. As I got more use to the idea that I had cancer, I focused my prayers on having a long life. (But when I was feeling sick, even a day could seem like an eternity, so maybe a long life wasn't really what I meant.) Then I progressed to the point were I could ask the Lord that "His will be done" in my life because He knows what is best and that way I would be happy. At that point I also struggled with how my faith affected "His will". It felt almost like a cop-out, because now I had no input and whatever happened, happened. That didn't seem quite right either, but at least I was at peace with whatever His will was for my life. That was real progress! Recently, I have prayed that I will be able to live as long as I need to to fulfill my mission here on earth. This actually feels like a good fit. It is up to me to do whatever I can to be an instrument in His hands, for as long as He sees fit. These ideas may seem like arguing semantics to many, but when you are a God-fearing, control freak like me, it feels better to be on the Lord's errand while He is in charge of how long that errand will be...

Three years later I am still not brave enough to say that I am grateful for trials, but I see the purpose of them. I know that they change us. For good or for bad, they change us and it is our decision which that will be.

Cancer has changed me for the good. It has changed my perspective, it has changed my priorities, it has fortified my relationships, and it has strengthened my testimony that Jesus is my Savior and that He is mindful of me. For these changes I am grateful!
I honestly feel like I am still here because of the faith and prayers of thousands! A humble and grateful 'thank you'!