If you have read Leveraging Life since January 2011, you’ll know my one word for 2011 is “pause.” I can’t help but think some of my readers have begun to think I’m taking the word too literally with my infrequent posting. Contrary to what the photo depicts, out to lunch only symbolizes my being away from Leveraging Life, but it doesn’t come close to telling the story of what my world has looked like the last three or four weeks.
Archives For Radiation Treatments
As promised Fast Forward does just that, brings my merkel cell cancer journey to the present tense and picks up where Off Season left off.
A routine follow up on the skin graft of my hand afforded me the opportunity to ask my surgeon to look at the scar under my arm where they removed three lymph nodes in December. This for all practical purposes should have been a visual check and was initially, but in his words: ”something told me to not only look at the scar but to also feel under the arm as well.” He said he felt a lump, but the look on his face told the story a biopsy later confirmed, that cancer was back in my life. A key thing not to miss and what I consider to be a blessing, had the surgeon only looked and not felt, most likely the cancer would have continued to spread unchecked for at least another six months when my next follow-up appointment was scheduled.
When cancer re-enters the picture you really can’t have another “Pin Drop” moment, but a fist through the wall moment is certainly justified. Unfortunately or fortunately there really isn’t too much time for that because your life becomes very scripted at that point and you follow the sequence laid before you. Biopsy’s bridge to scans, CT & PET; tests are followed by more tests confirming what your heart already knows. A script and a sequence are what you need to navigate those days because an idle mind is the breeding ground for doubt and fear….not only in the skills of your medical team but also in where God is in all this. The purpose of the scans was to see if cancer was present anywhere else including my organs and thankfully it was not. For me both scans lit up for cancer under my arm but in no other area of the arm. I took that as great news because that would have opened the door to a conversation that could have included the word amputation.
Off- Season refers to the time between when my first round of radiation ended and the reemergence of cancer in my life this past June.
Truth be told I never anticipated a second chapter to this story….and if I can be so arrogantly bold I thought my merkel cell story was Won & Done in April.
You would think with an attitude like that I’d been ready to climb the next mountain, tackle the next big project, restructure my life plan, but for me the off-season was a season of complacency. I withdrew, I went through the motions, and had I been honest should have acknowledged I was probably depressed. I expected everything to look different on this side of treatment, but the problem was I never changed the lens I viewed my life through.
I think it is important when you experience something similar to this, you allow time to regroup before immersing yourself back into routines. There can be an overwhelming urge for your life to return to normal, the only problem is what was normal before may not be normal now. Trauma is trauma (could be grief for a lost loved one, could be separation or divorce, could be job loss) and the mental rehabilitation may be more important than the physical rehabilitation with the results far less visible.
For me, not taking time to come to terms with how all this affected me minimized the effect it had on me which kept me from appreciating the potential for what God could do through me.
Wearing a yellow bracelet might signify I was a survivor……only problem was I didn’t feel like much of a survivor, only an existor. OK, existor is not a word, but it is the only term that describes the place I was in. Everything on my horizon lacked significance in my eyes. Sure I had family, friends, a job….more than what a lot of people could say, but I was also turning 46 and there were a lot of things left unchecked on my “to accomplish” list.
As I struggled, a key realization was brought to light when, in the span of 48 hours, I was reminded 3 times the opening line of Rick Warren’s book, Purpose Driven Life-“It’s Not About You”. My lack of purpose and significance stemmed from the fact I was trying to leverage my cancer experience for my benefit, rather than consider that God’s plan all along may have been to leverage my experience for His benefit. Each time “It’s not about you” was quoted it gave me a glimpse of what effect life with cancer could have on me and what God could do through me if my focus shifted from me and was leveraged where there was significance and purpose.
This blog is not the significance I speak of, but it’s a component; doing my job better has purpose because that income facilitates what and where my focus can be leveraged. What the effect now looks like for me is being more intentional in all things and modeling what I believe. Survivor bracelets are great….they raise money, and they show support for the cancer community, but wearing something and being something are two different things.
So before I place a bracelet on my wrist I need to do a little recasting of my DNA, that way the makeup of who I am and Who I serve will be the place I find purpose and I hope that will be the place God begins to leverage this experience.
If what you’re committed to isn’t Who you’re surrendered you will have a tough time finding purpose in your life and an even tougher time finding peace-my life lesson.
Is there something standing between you and the purpose your heart craves?
What is keeping you from removing those obstacles?
trusting God period
Off Season is part three in a series of posts called Life Lessons, all centered around life with cancer. Check back for Fast Forward which will bring this journey into the present tense.
The winning entry comes from Dave in Fresno who is part of the merkel cell google group I am a member of and is also a mcc survivor himself. Dave said the machine resembled a dragon, an invisible fire breathing dragon, set out to kill any straggler cancer cells that surgery might have missed.
Puff the any cancer Dragon
trusting God period
All the great stories have a hero and a villain, but when a story becomes a saga the villain usually becomes an arch nemesis.
As most of you know or have figured out I am in the midst of a story of my own and some who know me well may even call it a saga; but the Road Runner had Wiley C. Coyote, Batman had the Joker, Jerry had Newwwwman, and the only problem is my arch nemesis has no name. Actually it is a Linear Particle Accelerator, but that’s not much of a name is it?
This is it the actual machine I wrestle with each day and now that you have the image it’s time to NAME IT so you can win this!
Contest will run through Sunday Sept. 19, 2010 7:00pm with the winner receiving a $15.00 Starbucks Gift Card. Winner will be announce by noon on Sept. 20, 2010. Your entry is your comment below, and don’t forget to use the Facebook & Twitter buttons on the side to share this post with all your friends so they can join in the fun.
trusting God period