Monday, September 9, 2013

A Decade of Surviving Cancer

I was meditating on "I am open to the presence of miracle's" and it hit me, it's been ten years since my cancer diagnosis and my life was getting back to some sense of normalcy....what a miracle!!  

Three teenagers now left at home, activities that require me to be involved, school and homework and we have not even discussed my life.  Spreading the gospel of colon cancer and the importance of early detection, a full-time job, and a recurrence in my liver smack dab in the middle of getting my life back!  Yes, I said recurrence but, let's not focus on that because it is such a small part of what I have been given over the last 10 years that I am sailing through it this time around. Okay, maybe not sailing but, I'm dealing with things with a greater sense of gratitude because I have been given so much over the years, how dare I complain.

I have a wonderful network of folks I love and care for like family and they feel the same about me.  Even though we may only see each other once a year if that, we keep in contact and hold each other up during good and bad times.  

A loving and supportive mother, love and support from extended family and my children tell me how proud they are  of me and the example I have set for them to keep pushing through adversity. My youngest says she wants to be just like me; I tear up because I was thinking cancer got in our way. I can't do as much, I am still broke, I am still living from pillar to post, I am still robbing Peter to pay Paul and any other analogy you can think of that means "struggling financially"....LOL! 

One daughter says to me "it's not the money mom, it's the time, it's the conversations about life and values you've taught us and the motivation to be our best even at the lowest point in our live's, you said always do your best".  Wow, that's another gift, to see your children transition into adults that get it.  They call for me to tell one of their girlfriends the "Hippopotamus Mating Ritual", my recipes to fix a favorite dish for their husbands or child rearing tips.

I know I may seem like rambling but, anyone who has had cancer can understand the importance of getting it out of your head before you forget and believe me, I have a "fish bowl" mentality, once a thought swims around my head once, it's gone!  

Over the last ten years, I have learned a few things:

  • cancer didn't define me, it reinvented me.
  • I learned to be resilient
  • when life knocks you down, get back up. 
  • live your life, people will always talk
  • surround yourself with love
  • live
  • love
  • laugh
  • live some more
  • laugh harder

I'm human, I get down sometimes but, I give myself the opportunity to get over it and I thank God for where I am and for where I didn't end up.  Surviving made me a voice to the voiceless, an advocate, an activist, a philanthropist, an educator and a model.  It made me stop and not only smell the roses but, enjoy the roses.  I'm not saying this has always been my mentality because it has been a tough road traveled made easier by the people in my life and those I've met along this journey.  Be Blessed.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Living in A State of Grace

Today, I am blessed to say "Happy 18th Birthday" to my twin daughters.  

While reflecting on their personal accomplishments, their happiness, teenage tragedies, their fears, their dating and their accepting Christ and becoming Jr. Deacons, I realized that despite life's challenges and curve balls, we are living in "A State of Grace". 

I looked at my pictures on Facebook and I saw the smiles and the happiness of my family.  One picture after another I saw "kool-aid" smiles, silly smiles and smiles I can't describe but, my point is...they are smiling.  I jokingly asked the twins if they were moving out now that they are legal, they said "uh, no, we are living with you forever".....LOL.  Now, you know as soon as she finds out she can't be grown in Mommas house, she is moving out!!  We have been through some tough times but, my children still smile and they still like and love me. That's grace. 

To live in a state of grace is to experience our burdens and issues being lifted from us from time to time to enjoy life; that our path becomes smoother and more enjoyable in difficult times.

Take a break from troubles, look around you and see your state of grace. Laugh with your children or the children in your life, hug them, and kiss them.  Look at pictures, read cards or letters, look at your loved ones and those around you that show you love.  
State of Grace is always around you just like God's love. Be Blessed!

Numbers 6:24-26

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It Makes A Difference

Happy New Year 2013!

Too often, we think we should be silent about what we are going through because of the concern of embarrassment and gossip.  We suffer in silence because of pride and shame and because we were brought up not to share our personal business so, we die lonely, hurt, sad and in pain of holding in our suffering.  I too was embarrassed.... but, I spoke out anyway, I had no choice. 

This June will be my 10th year Cancer-versary and for those not familiar, it is the anniversary for which I was diagnosed with colon cancer.  I was asked why it still matters to me about colon cancer?  Why does it matter to me that I still raise awareness?  Why does it matter if others get screened or not?  My answer was simply "It makes a difference".  The memory of cancer never leaves you; it doesn't matter if the doctor says your cured...every lump, every pain and twinge you feel will bring your mind to "it's cancer".
It was a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., that really solidified why I cared so much besides the affect it would have on my family.  Walking through the museum, I saw pictures of families, films constantly going about various events, plaques on the walls with famous quotes and poems and so much more. 

There was a poem from Pastor Martin Niemoeller that just stuck out to me, it was an "ah ha" moment. 

DISCLAIMERMy apologies to anyone who finds my reference to the Holocaust offensive, it is meant to be a reference for the source of my information and in no way am I comparing cancer to the Holocaust.

In Nazi Germany, Pastor Martin Niemoeller who was a German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor wrote a famous poem. It has seen many versions, but the pastor wrote it to reflect the culmination of the Nazi advancement. The following is most widely accepted as the poem he wrote:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

He wrote this to reflect that his inactions, and the inactions of others, led to their own “undoing.” Many people saw what was happening, but never thought it would lead to mass extermination.

Imagine where we would be if no one spoke out about anything.  Why do I do what I do?  It Makes a Difference! 

Even after I am long gone, I hope my story helped someone survive cancer; I hope my advocating helped someone find the fight in themselves, I hope my awareness makes people realize it can happen to anyone, and I hope my Calling on Congress will help change the guidelines for cancer research and screenings for early detection of cancer and other diseases.
I encourage you to make a difference in the lives of others, tell your story!  Be Blessed!