Thursday, November 06, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Two years ago today, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012, I received the worst news of my life - breast kanswer that had spread to one lymph node. Earlier today, I pulled out my journal from that month and began to reread my frantic, tear-stained, terrified, pleading, hopeful ramblings.

Every year when I put the Christmas tree away (we have never had a real tree, only the attic-stored, artificial trees for us), I wonder what our lives will look like a year hence. Will we all still be here? Healthy, strong, together? This year, it will be different. Very different.

Losing my hair. Cut to the bone. To the root. Old has passed. New to come. A new life.

How much have I admired women with short hair? But I couldn't imagine cutting it off. Now I will. I'm looking forward to the new me. Who will I be, Jesus? Who will I be? 

Lord, help me to let go of everything I need to release. Everyone. Every activity. Just let it go. This cancer (sic) near my heart, this wound that must be removed. The spread, Lord, please stop the spread of it. Let it stop here. Let it stop with me. 

Lord, please don't let me die from this. Please, Lord, let me live so that I can be a witness of your love. A witness of your peace, joy, strength. Thank you, Jesus. 

From before the foundation of the world, God knew. All my life, God knew. Every step of my journey has brought me here, prepared me for this. For such a time as this. All shall be well. All is well already. 

This is my story to tell - first to live, then to tell, and to keep on living.


What did kanswer give me that I am grateful for on this, the two year anniversary of hearing that dreaded diagnosis?

1. I love having short hair. I don't miss my locs at all. Not one teeny tiny bit.

2. I am happier with my body now than I was before. I never expected that being boobless, wombless, and mostly hairless would be so easy to adjust to. Any body that can withstand chemotherapy and two major surgeries on the same day is a body worth being grateful for. Any body that has never undergone chemotherapy or surgery is a body worth being grateful for. Now that I think about it a little more, every body is a body worth being grateful for.

3. A story to share with others who are on a kanswer journey. We can talk and laugh and share tidbits and encourage one another to stay strong and weak. To be brave and scared. To accept all offers of help and say no thanks. To answer everyone's questions and to not answer the phone at all. There has to be room for being fully who we are at the present moment.

4. New friends and deeper connections that I wouldn't have had or made if I hadn't been diagnosed. Tamara. Kasandra. Jatrine. Kent. Arlene. Kris Carr. Breast kanswer navigator. Chiropractor. Doctors. Nurses. Receptionists. Friends of friends on Facebook. My awesome barber.

5. A healthier way to eat and drink and sleep and exercise. Kanswer introduced me to rebounding, green tea lattes made with coconut milk, and kombucha. Kanswer drew me deeper into yoga, green juices, almond butter, and pulled me out of my deeply ingrained addiction to sugar.

6. An increased understanding of suffering. Everybody struggles with difficult challenges. I have much more patience and am more able to listen to other people's stories without offering so much advice. I still have a lot to learn about keeping my mouth shut and just listening, but I'm much better at it than I used to be.

7. Deeper faith in God, a richer and more meaningful prayer life, and openness to the unexpected ways and times and places where and when I sense God's loving and abiding presence.

8. Greater joy in and gratitude for simply being alive. As Billy Blanks says, "Every day above ground is a blessed day." There is so much to celebrate, to be thankful for, and to enjoy in this life. The littlest things, the smallest details - freshly picked apples from Sky Top orchards, celebrating my daughter's 21st birthday, wandering around in Hendersonville with her, eating a fabulous dinner at Curate in Asheville, holding a newborn baby boy in my arms, the gift of homemade pumpkin butter, soaking my feet in the little pedicure tub I bought years ago, lavender essential oil, fuzzy socks on recently scrubbed toes, warm cornbread, arriving home safely from volunteering at Loaves and Fishes, the taste of toothpaste, the scent of roasted chicken, sipping tea from the mug I bought in Sevilla back in 2006, looking up at the cross a dear friend brought back for me from Haiti, filling twelve bags with fallen leaves, crawling under my blankets and drifting off to sleep - I notice those details more now than I did two years and one day ago. I no longer even see them as "details;" they are miracles. Life is short. Life is beautiful. Life is good. I am grateful for every moment of this miraculous life I live.

Thanks be to God.

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