Sunday, July 22, 2012

Black Light Beauty

My neighbor is a photographer and has been playing around with black light photography.  He was interested in photographing a bald female and asked if I would be interested.  I thought it would be fun, and it was.  Here's my 2 favorite from the pics he has sent me so far.

Top 10 Things I Learned from Cancer

This post has been a long time coming.  It has been really hard for me to describe what I have learned.  Putting it on paper in words just doesn't seem to be adequate.  I am a different person than I was 7 months ago.  A better and completely altered version of me.  Here is my attempt at explaining the lessons I've learned through this life changing event (in no particular order):

Lesson #1: I am a Daughter of God
A daughter, not offspring or another person for Him to watch over.  I've known this in many ways all my life, but I've been carried in His arms these past several months.  I know He was aware of me EVERY SINGLE MINUTE.  I felt His love more strongly, His presence more near me, and His arms powerfully wrapped around me.  I know He cried right along with me many nights, days, hours, and minutes.  I am His daughter and He went through this trial right along with me.  I am more aware of Him and of His awareness of me.

Lesson #2: A New Perspective on the Atonement
My depth of understanding of the Atonement grew beyond measure.  The physical pain my Savior must have endured....I still can't fathom, but I know He felt the physical torture of chemo.  Not only mine, but of ALL those who have had to go through it.  Then add other illness, pregnancy, surgeries, disabilities, etc.  I can't imagine.  All I know is chemo took me to a new physical low, one I never hope to feel again.  He felt that multiplied by an infinite amount.  Then add all the fear of diagnosis, the sense of loss, the unknown--the mental anguish of this trial as well as ALL others, and not just mine.  My heart just aches at the thought.  I LOVE my Savior.  I know that He suffered for ME.  I know He did it all and that He would have done it even if it was just for me alone.  I've felt Him with me through every surgery, every chemo treatment, every tear.  He did it not only for my eternal salvation, but for times like this.  Times when you need someone who knows.  He knows, He's been there.  And He's the only one who has felt it EXACTLY the way that I did, because He felt MY pain even before I did.  He got me through this.  I love Him and my depth of understanding and appreciation for His sacrifice both in Gethsemane and on the cross grew immeasurably.

Lesson #3: People Are Amazing
I hate to admit it, but this experience rejuvenated my faith in people.  People are good and amazing.  I'd lost sight of that. I was the recipient of so many acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.  Flowers, random notes, meals, gifts, visits, babysitting, and even a "yard"ful message of love and encouragement.  I have never felt so loved.  It restored my faith in the human race.

Lesson #4: Prayers Can Truly Be Felt
It's true.  I can tell you when someone prays for me.  I can feel it.

Lesson #5: Humility
I've learned to be the recipient of service.  I've been humbled by the love I have felt from you.  I've also been humbled by the realization of how important I am in the eyes of my Heavenly Father and my Savior.

Lesson #6: Courage and Strength are Developed
Everyone tells me, "You are so strong."  I can only say I am now.  Just as when we workout to make our muscles stronger, we must add a little weight.  Something outside of our own ability to challenge us beyond what we do in the everyday on our own.  Cancer has been a weight in my life in the sense that it has made me more than I could've ever been on my own.  I've developed strength I didn't own before.  As for courage, I don't feel I did anything courageous.  As anyone else who is considered courageous will tell you, I simply did what I needed to do.  If that makes me courageous then so be it.

Lesson #7: We are Part of Something Bigger
I still don't know "why" this happened to me, all I know is that it was in my plan.  I chose to have cancer be a part of my journey. Would I do it again?  No.  I'm hoping I never have to.  Would I change it if I could? No.  I've learned so much.  I know there is something bigger at play.  More than I can see right now, but for the long run, I'm better off with cancer than without it.

Lesson #8: I Am Blessed
Through this process I have learned how blessed I am.  Why shouldn't I have cancer?  I have been given so much to help me through this trial.  I have amazing family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  I have a good job with great medical insurance.  I was chosen to have a golf tournament for my benefit.  I have been given this disease at a time when treatments are better than they have ever been.  My prognosis was fortunately one of a cure versus remission.  I have been immensely blessed.  Because of cancer, I've realized how much.

Lesson #9: Life is Precious
I  think anyone who hears the word cancer in regards to their own diagnosis gets a reality check.  What would I change if this was going to be my last year?  Am I living my life in such a way that I could "go home" tomorrow and be ready?  I've learned to never take each day for granted.  Do I cherish every minute of everyday?  Absolutely not.  With nearly 2 year old twins at home there are many moments I'd just as well forget, but I do cherish the moments.  The 3 hugs I when I get home from work everyday, when my babies look at me and say, "Lub ooo," without being prompted, holding my sweetheart's hand, the small little things that light up my world everyday.  I cherish them.  I remember them.  I remember each day is a gift.  Life is good.  Life is precious.

Lesson #10: Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder
One of the hardest things through all of this has been losing my hair.  It was a long time coming, but I've come to realize that bald is beautiful.  I've learned to be confident in my own skin (literally!).  I don't need the fluff, although I desperately want it and can't wait for it to be back, I don't NEED it anymore.  I'm me, and that shines through, maybe even more so than with hair.  I've learned more about self-esteem, confidence, and beauty than I every could have with hair.  So, as hard as it was, I'm grateful I lost my hair.  I've learned more about beauty, the beauty that's inside.  That's what matters.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Purple Heart

I had a friend tell me that she felt this was her purple heart after chemo. I liked that, so I'm stealing it. This is my chemo port that has been sitting just under my left collar bone for 4 months. It was the mode of delivery for the nasty drugs and the way that they drew my blood each week. Having it out symbolizes so much for me. It symbolizes months of a hard fight, a fight that for now I have won. A win full of lessons learned, strength tested, and courage gained. One that earned me a purple heart.