Well, my plans changed unexpectedly this afternoon. After I worked out and was returning something at the grocery store, I got a call from Turner's teacher saying he wasn't feeling well. She put him on the phone and he sounded reasonably sick. So here we are on the couch as he is jamming to music on his ipod and currently doing the Whip and Nae Nae. Sick or not sick, that is the question. It is probably that poor parenting choice of several nights ago when I took the kids ice skating while the wind chill was seven below. That is my version of my winter fender bender.
Changing plans due to illness is something I reflect upon this time of year. Exactly 5 years ago this week, my cancer diagnosis came in. 5 YEARS. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT. I remember the day like it was yesterday. The call came the same night as my Cat scan, "The doctor would like to see you tomorrow morning to go over the results of your scan." That can only mean one thing... the results are not good. When a doctor wants to waste no time to go over test results it is terrifying. I begged the nurse to give me a hint, lucky for her she is not permitted to do so. But it sure is torture for the patient. Cruel, really.
Steve rearranged his day to go with me and because there were no other options, we dragged our two 3 year old sons with us to the doctor. I sometimes think about that morning. When I think back to that day, it is with much dread. I try not to go back there too often, but I find that this time of year makes me do it. As we all 4 sat crammed into the examining room and the doctor walked in, it was obviously not going to be good news. He wasted no time and did not beat around the bush. "I hate delivering this kind of news..." and from there the rest of the conversation was pretty much a blur. Have you ever been on a really scary roller coaster where in an instant your stomach drops to the floor? Your mouth goes dry and you wonder, why am I doing this? Pretty much the same thing without the desire to get back in line and do it all again.
There were phrases like, "I'm not going to use the "c" word yet until you have surgery and find out for sure." "There are two large masses attached to your ovaries." "Your blood work indicates a very elevated marker for the "c" work." "I'm going to set you up with an oncologist- get you an appointment tomorrow." "In all my years practicing medicine, I've never met anyone with ovarian cancer. The odds are in your favor." "I'm so sorry."
We collected our coats and my two small children and the world around me moved in a blur. We called some friends and met them at a bounce house so the kids could play and we could talk. We went to McDonald's after. My friends stood beside us as shocked as we were. They prayed for me. They gave me words of comfort. That was a Tuesday, by Friday I was in surgery... finding stage III Ovarian Cancer. What followed were months of treatment. Fear. Anxiety. Depression. Hair loss. Weight loss. Sleepless nights. Tangible acts of service and kindness from friends, family, strangers. Healing. Strength. Hope. Survival. Recovery. Health. Joy. Thankfulness. Restoration. Travel. Family. Ups. Downs. Missions. Fights for Justice. Compassion for those in hard times, health or otherwise. Empathy. Courage. Weight gain and subsequent efforts in weight loss. Normal life.
From time to time I live in fear that I will one day re-live that doctor's visit. January serves as a very fresh reminder. The weather, the short days, the annual events that occurred that season that will always cast my mind to "that year I was in treatment." At 5 years they will call me cured. I will be "official" in June when my treatment was over. I am rounding up in faith, declaring myself cured. There were days I wondered if I would make it to see this day. I hate wishing time away. I believe I have lived fully the days within those 5 years. Who knows what tomorrow will hold and perhaps I won't see the 5 year mark. But to live each day to the fullest is one lesson cancer taught me (among so many others.) I think there are not many days that go by where I think, "Boy, I really wasted that day." I squeeze all that I can out of most of them. Some may think my schedule and my days are insane. Honestly, I like it like that. Mostly because I remember months of being incapable of doing anything for myself and others and I am extremely grateful for these days!!!
So today as my plans changed due to illness, it makes me pause in thankfulness. As I snuggle my son and raise an eyebrow as to how sick he really is (I can live with a faker if it means a snuggle on the couch just the two of us for the afternoon) I couldn't be happier that God held my hand through that time 5 years ago and He holds it today and tomorrow. While I still can't say that I am thankful for my cancer, I can say that I am thankful for how my cancer taught me to live! Some moments you're down on the couch and others you are whipping and nae naeing... life is made up of both. So, kill it!