Just to be transparent with you, I am in a different season right now fraught with change and uncertainty and letting go. That’s why I haven’t written in a while.
In this life our journeys take a turn that sometimes come out of nowhere, it seems, and knocks us out for a while. I am starting to very slowly see through the veil that this is another lesson, another level, a gateway into a deeper level with Jesus. Though I feel the breath has been knocked out of me and I am very tired I know from my spirit that Jesus walks this valley with me.
And, yes, I will write more about my story soon.
Which brings me to Lori’s story. I have known Lori for about 30 years. I have watched her and admired her devotion to family and motherhood and God. I knew her Dad, a mighty man of God, and loved him very much. I have been following Lori’s journey through breast cancer and praying along with countless others.
Then yesterday I read this on Facebook and instantly knew her story is a wake up call for me and all of us. Not that we will get cancer, but through her valley of trial, and what she learned there, brings us a message to look at our lives and evaluate what is most important. For our walk on this earth is very short compared to where we are going.
We get so caught up in our ‘masks’ of who we think we are, or we only show what we want people to see; not the real us. Vanity takes over and we live this kind of pseudo life of insincerity. I so admired Lori’s bravery to reveal it all in this trial so that others could see into her world and maybe find hope.
The church was meant for family, for realness, for loving support and transparencies….so that we can grow and heal and know we are not alone.
Peter 5:8-9 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
What is the Holy Spirit assuming about your life? That you are under spiritual attack. This is not a passage about nonbelievers; he’s talking about “your brothers and sisters.” Peter takes it for granted that every believer is under some sort of unseen assault. And what does he insist you do? Resist the devil. Fight back, take a stand.
Lori took a stand and has won her victory. But the lessons were many.
Thank you sweet Lori, for allowing me to share your story.
“Twenty-nine radiation treatments ago I was overwhelmed thinking that I would never be standing with one foot hovering over the finish line. On Monday, I will get my last radiation treatment. On Thursday I am having my port removed. I have spent half a year tearing up my body to rid it of cancer and the next half will be spent rebuilding it.
I still have a long road of recovery ahead, but I face it knowing that I am cancer free.
I know it sounds odd, but I am grateful for everything that I have gone through.
Grateful for the pain?
Grateful for the worry?
Grateful for a disease that ravaged my body and tried to kill me?
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I am grateful because it has changed me in more ways than taking away (just trying to be real here) half of one of my most magnificent physical features.
The fact that I feel grateful is in itself due to the lessons that fighting cancer has taught me.
When you are diagnosed with cancer, everything stops while you concentrate on beating it. You don’t have the energy to participate in all of your normal activities and your treatments take precedence over everything else in your life…a job, family activities, church, or any other pursuit that normally occupies your time. You try to keep things as normal as possible, but basically your schedule is at the mercy of your disease.
At first, I thought that the world was going to crumble if I had to step down from all of the things I was in charge of. Amazingly, the world did just fine during my sabbatical. My husband and kids survived. My house didn’t burn down. The church, the PTA, the cub scouts and all those other things soldiered on. I learned that I don’t have to control every…single…thing.
I don’t have to stress myself out to make everything my version of perfect. One day it hit me that the same God who I was trusting to heal me was also capable of taking care of the everyday worries in my life. As I began to hand those worries over to Him, I also realized that if I were to leave this earth, He would be there to take care of all those that I left behind.
Cancer certainly causes you to face your immortality. We all know we are going to die…someday. When you are diagnosed with cancer, that far off someday is suddenly smacking you in the face. Death itself, doesn’t scare me. I know where I will spend eternity. I am not afraid of what is to come. For me, facing death was more about worrying over what I was leaving behind.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a peace that God would watch over my family, but I was still sad because I had so many more things that I wanted to do with my kids. There were life lessons I wanted to have the time to teach, memories I wanted to make with them, and my own life experiences that I still hadn’t shared. I was angry at myself for all the time in life I had wasted on things that just don’t matter in the bigger picture.
Cancer forced me sift through all the unimportant things in life, causing me to recognize the things that truly mattered…. Ironically “things” didn’t even make the list. I was actually able to clean out my closets and get rid of those clothes I have been holding onto for 15 years because one day the stars might align and they will once more fit me and come back in style all in the same week.
As I begin to purge the stuff in my house, I also took stock of the stuff in my character. I realized that I had held on to grudges, bitterness, anger, hurts, and worries, much the way I had held onto my Members Only jacket from Jr. High.
It was time to let it all go.
When you have one foot in the grave, what this one said about you or that one did to you really doesn’t matter so much.
With the sweeping away of emotional cobwebs comes clarity. Suddenly it occurred to me how much energy I had wasted being worried about what other people think.
How many times had I not embraced life because I was afraid that someone would say I was too old or too fat or too anything to be participating in something I really wanted to do?
Losing my hair was a wakeup call for me. I thought everyone would stare, but the truth is, most people don’t take the time to look beyond themselves and really see those around them. It only took a few times of walking through the grocery store bald, to figure out that no one was looking at me.
Never again will I forgo an opportunity to swim with my kids or enjoy a gorgeous day at the beach because I am afraid of what people will think of my body. Never again will I allow myself to be shy because I am worried someone won’t like me based on my outward appearance. I also vow to stop avoiding cameras.
I have a ten-year gap in the photo album, where there are no pictures of me. I always made the excuse that I am the one who takes the pictures, so I am never in them.
The truth is that I didn’t want to be in them. We haven’t posed for a family portrait since 2008, because I don’t like the way I look. When I faced my darkest days of cancer, it hit me that if I were to die, my kids wouldn’t have any pictures of me. As they grew older, their memories might grow foggy. They might even be unable to remember their own mother’s face.
I have a picture of my mom and me that she hated because she thought she looked old. When I look at it, I don’t see wrinkles, I just see love. I could continue to be the phony girl with a profile picture on Facebook that was taken in 2004, or I could just say, “Screw it, this is me, love it or hate it I don’t care, I choose to be real.”
As I look back on this journey, I see that the healing I received wasn’t limited to the physical. I like to think that in my battle with breast cancer, a tumor was removed from more than my body.
I feel like a cancerous growth has also been removed from my spirit and for that I am grateful for everything that I have gone through. So thank you, cancer. You invaded my body with sights set on my destruction, but you lost!
Not only were you defeated, but what you meant for bad, in the end made me a happier person. I am not the woman I was a year ago and that suits me just fine.”