“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass . . . It’s about learning to dance in the rain!”
I am now dealing with a recurrence of cancer… we thought we had it beat two years ago, but it sneaked back into my body. Okay, we’ve dealt with it once before, we’ll deal with it again.
A friend asked how I’m doing, and I replied, “I’m learning a lot.” But he persisted and asked, “What are you learning?” And ah, that turned out to be a difficult question.
Many people with a life-threatening disease will say, “I learned to appreciate every moment,” or “life has become more intense,” or “I learned to say I love you to family,” and a things like that. But I have had the gift of living all my life “in the now,” with an intensity of awareness of every moment. I always live in a state of appreciation. Every time I drive home (several times a day) I say, “Thank you God that I live in such a beautiful place.” I look around and never take the extraordinary beauty of the forests and lakes where we live for granted. It is my nature. So, while I haven’t “learned” those things from the cancer that is attacking me, I do continue to live that way.
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One thing I’ve learned is that I have an astonishing support system. First, my husband has been my rock. He can’t do enough for me and, believe me, a protocol like this demands a great deal from a mate.
Then, during the first bout of lymphoma, my son and his wife made the decision to move to our town because they felt they couldn’t get to me quickly enough in an emergency (there were other reasons, too, but they said that was primary). That taught me something about the depth of their love!
And in our community, oh my gosh, people have done so much for us! Meals come in several times a week. People walk and feed our dog when we have to be away with medical stuff all day. One friend lent me a laptop so I can continue to write and do client work while in my various hospital stays. Others offer to drive us to Seattle for special treatments, even when sometimes we have to be there at dawn! (Most treatments are close to home, but for some, I have to go to Seattle.) Others have come to do our yard work and tend our garden. One friend actually flew up from California to be at my side for what was the toughest week. What an unforgettable gift!!!
Really, it’s overwhelming, the expressions of care coming from so many. So, I guess I’m learning that I am loved!
I’m also learning about how God works with us through situations like this… how he shows that he is with me in so many different ways, so I don’t feel alone.
And… this is interesting: I’ve learned that my happiness does not depend upon my circumstances. I have a terrible disease, but still I feel joy and happiness. Would I prefer not to have it? O, yes. There was an initial stage of disappointment when the cancer came back, a slump in my spirit. But even then I never got into the “Why me?” nonsense. I look around. At friends. At the church prayer list. At the news on TV. And I see so many people – so many! – suffering much more horrible things than I am. Stuff happens. Why should I, or anyone, be exempt?
Then, after a short while, there came peace, and a return of my natural spirit. Fear subsided (fear is a living death) and I feel alive again. I feel joy and happiness. How? I can only surmise it is a gift from God. He is with me in this.
Today, it’s a glorious sunny day and I wish I were walking outdoors, around the lake, but instead I’m writing from the hospital where I’m getting another cycle of chemotherapy. Oh well, I’ll walk next week.
While we’re on the subject, what have you been learning lately?