Caveat: Vulgarity ahead, yet used contextually, with brutal honesty. For those of you who might be offended by coarse language, head’s up: I’m passing along my unvarnished truth without a naughty language edit, hence, HENCE!, the warning.
Cancer. If ever there was a word that could scare us shitless, it’s that one. Literally and figuratively, just don’t ask me how I know about the former.
I decided to write a post that was unedited for vulgarities today, because it’s important for those just diagnosed who read here, those going through a diagnosis alone that read here, or loved ones of someone in the thick of it who read here, know that I was completely scared shitless many days after diagnosis.
I am a realistic optimist, so I’m able to find the good in any situation; to date there has not been a time in my life where I haven’t been able to grab hold of some good, no matter the bring-me-to-my-knees circumstance. Maybe not at the moment of explosion, but soon after the blast, I’m sorting through the rubble, searching for something to hold on to, something that will bring me peace and hope to continue for one more minute, one more hour, one more day, and on and on.
I’m writing this post because when I have written about my cancer journey, many have told me how easy I made it look or how well I handled adversity or how they admired my faith in all things devastating. Each time I was complimented, I tried to explain that I wasn’t above the struggle, that I had struggled with ferocious fears, that had I cried myself into dehydration, while begging God to allow me the answer to my prayers. I tried to explain that I felt the universal fear many had felt, that hearing the words you have cancer, scared me shitless.
When those words left my doctor’s mouth, I felt the world spin out of control. I thought of my family, of my obligations, of my hopes and dreams, and I couldn’t breathe. I felt the bile rise in my throat. I felt the blood drain out of my legs. I felt the hairs stand on my neck. I felt the joy sucked out of my soul. I felt the hot tears run down my face. I felt emptied. I felt horror. I felt scared.
And that’s how it stayed for a while. There is no denying that your body, that your mind, must process an injury, whether physical or psychological; I was processing my injuries through every emotion I had in my possession.
Recently, a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer and she expressed her fear. When I told her I had felt the same way, many days throughout my ordeal, she was relieved to know as much. She had thought herself weak, as a woman of faith, for experiencing fear.
My literal first thought when her words struck me: HOLY SHIT! I have done a poor job in sharing my journey if folks didn’t think I was fearful along the way.
I was, on many days.
So, how did I get past those days? How did I nudge out the fear and replace it with optimism?
By allowing myself the grace to be scared shitless, for however long I needed, that’s how.
We are given a myriad of emotions, and I believe they are all to be experienced and expressed. Being fearful sucked. On the days I was overcome by fear, I told myself that it was part of the journey. I made a point to discuss my fears with my doctors, nurses, friends and Garry. By bringing my fears to light, by acknowledging I was afraid, some days in a way I had never experienced, it allowed me the room to shift my perspective, allowing room for hope, for peace.
It was never easy. I don’t want anyone reading here to think that all my days were filled with cancer humor and silliness; they weren’t. Some days were filled with a terror so encompassing, I thought I’d never see my light-hearted nature again.
Yet, I did. By God’s glorious grace, I did.
But first, I was scared shitless.
My babies, I want my words to edify, to help, to offer a hand up to those who may be suffering through the hardest days of their lives. Knowing that fear is part of the cancer package can help. It is not weakness to fear. It is only weakness to wrap your arms around fear and offer it a permanent place in your life.
It’s not my nature to embrace that which can diminish my joy and I bet it’s not yours either.
I pray if you find yourself in a situation that invites fear a place in your heart, you understand that it’s normal to feel this hard emotion, to be so fearful you actually quake, but then, after being the gracious host I know you to be, you kick its ass to the curb and get back to the business of living.
Cancer. Fearful, yes. Having all the power, never.
Onward in faith, my babies.
~Please consider sharing on social media, or by email, to anyone who may need to read these words. Smooches.~