Sunday, February 22, 2015

Five Years! A Look Back at Where I've Come From.

I did it! 

I met that infamous five year mark! 

They never tell you when "that" time starts when you start that trek. Some say as soon as you have (surgery, chemo, radiation). Others say when your treatments are done. Still others say once you are declared cancer free.

My doctors never said the phrase 'cancer-free', but my test results came back showing no cancer.  

Once I had surgery, I was told I had to have chemo because that little bugger snuck into my lymph nodes and only God knows where it hid after that.  Then the radiologist told me I needed radiation because it would finish what I didn't allow in surgery.  (I opted for a lumpectomy). 

So I decided that once I was finished with active treatments I would begin my countdown. 

I had my surgery on May 21, 2009. That was my momma's birthday. We lost her in 2004. I was a bucket of emotions that day. One of which; I was glad she wasn't alive to be a witness to this. It would have torn her up. But, I was glad to get that beast out of my body. I was also bummed because my girlfriends from Chicago were supposed to come and visit at that time. They even had their airline tickets.  Sadly, that trip has never been rescheduled. And I was scared to pieces!

I started the first of 6 chemo cycles on July1, 2009 and ended October 13, 2009.

Me and my oncology nurse, Mari Kay the day of my "graduation" from chemo.

Then five years ago on February 1st, 2010 I finished up 31 rounds of radiation.

Me and the radiation team on my last day of treatment.

In January of this year I met with my oncologist, Dr. Coffman, and he gave me the choice to stay on or go off of my prescription medication that I've been on since finishing radiation. I opted to finish out what I had at home and then stop. The percentages of additional cancer-free years was not enough to persuade me (or him) that it was worth staying on them. He didn't try to persuade me either way, just gave me facts, but I think he was totally okay with me going off them. 

Dr Byran Coffman

I knew back in 2009 that cancer would change my life, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine how, and how much, it did. I wish that NO ONE would ever get cancer again, but I can actually say it has been a blessing to go through such a life-altering diagnosis.

I learned, or should say, am still learning, lessons from having gone through cancer.

First I realized that life really is too short to take advantage of.  Love those who surround you, and let them know it. Appreciate the little things in life, a kind word, a beautiful sunset, the sound of wind brushing the tree tops... Seriously, who ever coined the phrase, "Stop and smell the roses" had to have gone through a traumatic incident. Do exactly what it says. Stop! Take time to smell that beautiful fragrance of a rose, to play "patty cake" or "peek-a-boo" with a child. Take time to send someone a birthday card, or just a thinking-of-you card. Tell someone they are beautiful. Reflecting back, I can see how I've eased back into being too busy (i.e: self-centered) and let too many opportunities slip by without appreciating or being thankful. I have it on my agenda to slow down this year and start again showing my gratitude to my loved ones and myself.

Secondly, take your health seriously!  Cancer IS preventable! Our mom's, Dr's and TV ads have been pounding the message into our ignoring heads for decades. Eat your fruits and veggies, get plenty of sleep, drink 8 glasses of water a day and exercise! Such simple, but ignored, pieces of advice that could save our lives.  I might add, stop activities that cause stress and cut out sugar as much as possible (it hides in everything!)  If you don't take care of your body, who will take care of you? It really boils down to a little self-discipline and less television, to take care of YOU. You are worth it!

Lastly and most importantly, and I've gotten away from this one too, connect with the One who made you. When I was going through treatments and had little to no energy, I had plenty of "down-time". I talked to God, read His word, and received His love. He is there all the time, but we rarely slow down long enough to make time to be with Him. I've said it before, and I'll say it again here, relationships take TIME! You must spend time with your spouse or you will most likely end up in divorce, or the dreaded and ugly 'just living together'. You must spend time with your children, or they will become little monsters, out of control, doing whatever they want, which is usually destructive, humans.  You must take time to develop friendships or you end up with lip service statements like: "let's get together for lunch"... "call me"..... or the hang in the air, "we should do that." that never happens. 

The same applies to our relationship with our heavenly Father. The silver lining is, He never leaves us and He always loves us.  It is we who walk away, stay silent or run away from Him.  The good news is, He is always there for us when we finally decide to come back and talk to Him. He'll welcome us back with love and open arms. I can hear Him say to me "I've been waiting for you. Welcome back. I've missed you."  I've missed Him too. I've had a glimpse of the reality of His love, His awesomeness, His patience, His faithfulness, and I miss it.

My heavenly Father, It's been too long since I've sat and talked to you. I'm sorry I've been away too long. It is so good to come back to your heavenly hugs and your loving voice whispering in my ear softly and soothingly. Thank you for always being there for me and for welcoming me back after I've been away. It's good to be home. I love You.

He gave me these last 5 years. What I did, or didn't do with that time is something I live with. Both the good and the bad. I've made some bad decisions and wasted time. I've also made some great decisions and have been thankful for those. If it weren't for going through cancer, I may have never had the "wake-up call" to change my eating habits for the healthier or started getting serious about exercise. Although I'm still learning and realizing things and still making mistakes, I am beginning to let go of unhealthy things like: bad foods, dead-end relationships and things I have no control over. And I've begun to embrace healthier eating, consistent exercise and expressing love and thankfulness to those in my life.  I am trying to stress less and appreciate more and most importantly, sit in my Fathers lap everyday.

Sue C update

It is with sadness that I write that Sue C passed away.