Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry #11

Cancer is WAY too popular. Everywhere I turn it’s like there’s another story about cancer. Treating it, trials for it, testimonies about it and of course loss from it. I  probably never really noticed it before, but I dare you to pick up any paper today and not find a story about cancer. I guess it bugs me so much because if I’m really honest about how I feel, deep down inside, I have to admit:

11. I’m scared of cancer.

I don’t want to be. I love and trust God, but I’m human and he knows that. I feel great, but then I read a news article about a 44 year old mother of 3 losing her battle with breast cancer. Then I go to her inspirational blog and I read about how she felt when her close cancer friend died 15 months before and she writes about being so afraid that would be her and I now know, it IS her and I can’t help but think – will it be me? I’m scared.

I’m scared because I know the world doesn’t make sense. I know we lose loved ones we wish we had more time with, things happen that seem unthinkable, people experience things they never dreamed of. I know life is unexpected. So, it could be me. I have no more right to live than Jennifer Rae Beck did at 44 or her friend Ruthie, or countless others. I don’t deserve it more. I’m not smarter, prettier, funnier, kinder. I can’t win it by works. Ruthie had a wonderful ministry and even had a license plate frame that said “Can’t Do Cancer Without God”, and I agree, you can’t. But that doesn’t mean that when you do it with him you’re going to live.

So what do you do?

People love to say ‘Live like you’re dying’. That’s stupid. If I lived like I was dying, I’d end up in jail. There are things I would want to do that I shouldn’t unless I was dying, but God willing, that’s going to be a long time from now. So I can’t do that. I still have to plan, think, prepare, teach my children right from wrong, work hard, be responsible. I still have to live like I’m going to be here tomorrow and many more tomorrows after that, so that doesn’t work, no matter how many songs are written about it.

I can’t let it paralyze me. I’m raising 2 girls and God willing they are going to grow up to be women, moms who too will impact other lives – namely their children. Especially as a single mom, I don’t have the luxury of curling up in a ball, thinking the world is coming to an end and that someone else will pick up the pieces around me. I have to continue to engage this thing we call life and I believe that knowing my girls need me, now and in the future, has been my greatest motivation.

So that leaves me with one option – just do it.  Not in the Nike way, but have you seen the Shia LaBeouf inspirational video? It’s totally crazy. But today, it hit me. It’s not about just living. It’s not about just continuing to get the opportunity to live. It’s the opportunity to DO it. To do more. To be more. To challenge myself more. To give more. To love more. To pray more. To serve more. To laugh more. To grow more. It’s the opportunity to live past the dream of being alive. Because if it’s one more day, one more year, ten more years, thirty more years, it’s MORE. And what more can I really ask for than just that?

Each day matters more to me now than it did 8 months ago. Each day since December 3, 2014 is worth more than it was before diagnosis day. Each moment is more special. Each relationship more rewarding. Each lesson more powerful.

Being afraid of cancer doesn’t make me more anything, it makes me less likely to be more of everything I want to be and do. So I’m done with that. No more.

 

Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry #10

I have always considered myself a pretty grateful person. I have a strong faith so I’m thankful for the many things I know I have that I don’t deserve. I’m grateful for the big – waking up every morning- and the small -front row parking spot at the mall. However in the midst of chemo, I have realized something.

10. I take a lot of things for granted.

Now I’m not talking about the big things. I know I’m blessed to still have my mom and for her to be healthy and strong enough to help take care of me and my 2 daughters during this time. I’m grateful I have 2 sisters who were willing and able to drop everything to be with me when I needed them. I’m grateful my daughters who even as young as they are have been strong and resilient through this. I’m grateful for the relationship with my ex-husband and his willingness to help me and the girls wherever we needed him. And, I’m grateful for incredible friends and a network of people who prayed for me and cared enough to do so much for me and my family.

But especially while undergoing chemotherapy, you feel the weight of things you used to be able to do that now you CANNOT.

For me, one of the biggest things I missed during this time was just my freedom. Freedom to go and do things. I didn’t even drive for at least a week every chemo round. I wasn’t allowed to go to public places. I missed places that aren’t even fun – like the grocery store. My last rounds were at the end of the school year, so I even missed going to the end of the year assembly and some of the girls performances. At one point I got ready to take them bowling as an end of school celebration and then realized, I couldn’t be in a bowling alley! I wasn’t able to go or do what I wanted.

I missed being able to workout. There have been so many days in my life when I was too lazy to get up and go running. But now I really can’t – physically and I thought about all those times I didn’t, when I could have. I thought about how I should have been more grateful for a body that has carried me many miles including a marathon, 3-day 60 mile breast cancer walk (long before I knew this was going to happen) and many half marathons along the way.  Now I can barely raise my arms above my head. I totally took my health for granted. It’s strange because as we get older, we still feel like and act like things aren’t going to happen to us. When you lose your health in a situation like this, it’s so ABRUPT. So, it’s easy to see – you’ve really taken it for granted.

I missed hanging out with my friends. They were all around me but it wasn’t the same. I missed being out with them, sitting at a bar  and cracking up. Being with people I enjoy helps me be a BETTER me.

I missed traveling. Not being able to get on an airplane meant I spent more time at home over an 8 month period than I probably ever have. I enjoy going places and experiencing other environments, meeting strangers and being in new places. Before, I used to fuss about having to travel for work. But not going to conferences I usually went to in the summer or media trips really bummed me out.

Although a luxury, I missed getting manicures, pedicures, my hair done (won’t be doing that for a while now :). There was no pampering during chemo – the risk of infection was too great. Not even a massage.

I just didn’t realize how good I had it. Things I did everyday or whenever I wanted were STRIPPED away. And now I realize I didn’t really appreciate them before they were gone. I know my life wasn’t perfect before, but it was pretty awesome. I realize that NOW more than ever.

My life could be so different and I know we all have varying degrees of ‘the good life’. But I never stopped to think about NOT having these things in my life, because I’ve had them for so long. But I may not have them forever and I know others don’t ever have them. So I’m trying to take time to appreciate things more now, the big and the small.

There are so many things that in the midst of my complaints or worries, I now see as a blessing. I know surviving cancer should make you grateful for having life. But it also makes you realize what really makes up your life and how precious those things are.  I hope I don’t lose that awareness cause being more grateful truly makes life more enjoyable. And that’s what I’m ALL about these days!