Until now I have focused primarily on my miracle journey. It has been a journal more than anything: things I'd never say out loud. Now I'm going to try to develop this blog into a breast cancer research oriented commentary. I plan to use my background to take current research and news in cancer treatment and turn it into something understandable. Please be patient, I will try to not get too nerdy! Thank you for visiting!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I just logged into my secure email for MD Anderson. Upon doing that I was reminded to check my patient demographics. There at the top of the page was my photo ID they took at my first visit on July 16, 2009. My medium brown short hair and dimpled smile fills the photo box. My collarbones were prominent and my eyes are sparkle. Then I look at photos just a few months later. My hair disappeared, but the smile and collarbones remained. My eyes dimmed somewhat during treatment. Then I look in the mirror now -- almost 2 years after that fateful diagnosis. My hair is darker and curly (thank you God for something good out of this experience). My collarbones while still visible are much less prominent. My smile remains, but sometimes does not fully reach my eyes to generate that sparkle I was so known for.
My hair matters less to me than the other pieces of baggage I carry from my chemo, delivery of Rachel, more chemo, and surgeries. However, it is probably one of the biggest 'rewards' I got from my experience. Rachel is the biggest reward even as she is also one of my biggest challenges. ;-) The reason I mourn the loss of my collarbones prominence is not that I've gained weight (I'm basically the same weight I was between delivering Simon and conceiving Rachel), instead it is about what the surgeries to my chest have done to me. The loss of prominence of my collarbones is indicative of the muscle retraction and 'bottoming out' of my implants that causes me much discomfort and pain. This is one factor responsible for the lack of sparkle in my eyes. Another factor responsible for that lack of sparkle is the ever present fear of my body betraying me again. I have taken all reasonable (and a somewhat unreasonable) precautions to prevent this futher betrayal, but every visit to the oncologist reminds me that life is indeed fragile and my 'cure' is indeed not a sure thing.
I wish I could say that my Faith drastically eases the burden of my fear both of the physical suffering that another diagnosis could bring as well as the emotional fear of death. However, I must be honest, my Faith is not that great. Well, perhaps I should explain further. It's not that I don't believe God has a plan and purpose for all that we are -- trials as well as comforts. It's that I don't understand God's plan and I am afraid He thinks more of me than I do of myself. I am a firm believer of redemptive suffering. Not as a means of 'deserving' Heaven or salvation, but as a means of using suffering to give witness God's blessings. For without witnessing sufferings, can we really appreciate all that we have? If we did not know loss of loved ones, would we truly cherish every moment we have with our remaining loved ones? If we do not witness the suffering of others, would we truly be capable of putting our own sufferings aside? If we did not have Christ's example on the Cross, could we truly forgive those who offend us? However, even realizing the truth to these statements, the very human and weak part of me says that I simply want to witness suffering, not live through it. However, Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow Him. He admonishes us to forgive our brethren seven times seventy times. He warns us that we shall suffer on earth in order to gain eternal life. However, He also acknowledges that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the righteous to enter Heaven.
A part of me wants to bow my head and admit defeat sometimes. It sometimes seems as if I simply cannot continue to keep my spirits up, support my family, remain steadfast in Faith, enjoy the presence of friends and family, and fight the fear and pain that resides within me. However, I remain here waiting for God's call. Apparently, sometimes I ignore His call to take other less important calls (like this pity-party). Sometimes I feel that I'm answering His call, but do not stay focused on His goals for me. Sometimes I feel that I'm answering His call, paying attention, but still give the 'wrong' answers. Infrequently, I feel that I not only answer His call, pay attention, but I also give the right answers. It is the latter of these times that make all the former issues fall away. I can dance and sing with gladness. Sadly, these latter occassions seem rare.
I want to cry for that naive girl in that first photo. I want to be her again instead of who I look at in the mirror each morning. However, I realize that girl too had doubts and wounds she hid from view. I was that girl, so I know. She just had not experienced as much life as I have now. I know that, in my heart -- then & now -- I was frightened, awestruck, loving, loved, and lucky. The only way I would step back into that girl's shoes would be if I knew she would not have to walk the difficult road that she walked to become who I am today. However, that girl would not have become the woman I am today without this journey. Whether that's a good thing or not is up to God to decide. All I know is that I face myself every morning and while it is not always conscious, choose to try to live my life as God would intend it. I try to be a steadfast presence with Faith, honor, charity, and love. I try to speak out for those who cannot -- especially the unborn. I try to educate those who may come into contact with a naive girl like I was. I try to love as I know I am loved. Most of all, I just try to live life to the fullest.