What’s worth fighting for...and then completely forgetting about?
What’s worth fighting for...and then completely letting it go so well that you completely forget about it?
Well, apparently for me—it’s cancer. And that is a major blessing.
I was tucking myself in tonight and a little intuitive voice said “check today’s date.”
August 12, I thought. Nothing great about today.
Intuition said again, “Check again.”
I thought and thought — and August 11 stuck out (the date of my last cancer surgery), but not the 12th.
Then I remembered a photo of myself — 1-day post-op from that surgery. I was holding a donut at Octane Coffee. It was not just any donut. I hadn’t eaten much sugar thanks to cancer, and I decided to break the “rules” that day. I also decided to leave my house even though I’d just had my 2nd surgery in 3 months and I felt like shit.
Why? Because I was celebrating 1 year since cancer diagnosis, and that was worth breaking some rules the day after surgery — on August 12. I did have to google it and confirm that indeed — I was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma on August 12, 2015.
5 years ago today. August 12.
It’s a long story — but there were many twists and turns to get this diagnosis.
Ultimately, I had to literally fall on my face and land in the hospital — where brilliant minds scratched their heads. Nobody knew what was causing such dire and strange symptoms.
Well, nobody except for one person who by the grace of God managed to run across my chart — accidentally—at literally the 11th hour as they were about to send me home with no answers.
She sat at the edge of my bed for over an hour explaining what an inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor is, why I was kind of a unicorn to have it, and exactly how the drug she hoped I would qualify for would help shrink it — pretty important since it was the size of a grapefruit, it was in my lung, it was growing like a weed and taking up way too much real estate as it was killing me slowly.
I didn’t feel afraid. Actually — the only thing I felt was relieved. We finally had answers. I also felt embarrassed because I had no idea that this was actually a (malignant) cancer.
Dr. D’Amato was so optimistic and positive (and also, I was fairly drugged and very anemic at this point, so who knows what she actually said) that it sounded like no sweat.
I didn’t want to “ruin the good mood” (because yes—she actually was capable of delivering this news with that much positivity) by asking her this real honest question.
Daniel and I quickly googled as soon as she left and it revealed that yes, this was in fact cancer.
And the next 2-3 years of my life after that moment would reveal that getting to the other side of the mountain wasn’t exactly “no sweat.”
But lo and behold — 5 years and many ups and downs later — here I am, sitting in my bed, realizing I have come so far, life has changed so much — to the point I have (almost!) completely forgotten about it.
Sure — I still have tangible and visible reminders — a huge scar, missing ribs, missing lung, a paralyzed diaphragm, strange shoulder, and neck pain, two portable oxygen concentrators to use at altitude (sometimes), noticing that some clothes don’t fit my torso as well anymore, a strange creepy feeling of scoliosis setting in, and of course — twice yearly going on once yearly scans complete with nasty barium to drink. Though I will admit—after 30+ scans in 5 years the flavor has grown on me.
But those reminders are just a blip now. Just a passing thought. Just a normal part of life.
And that — the blips, the forgetting — THAT is a blessing to be oh-so-grateful about.
In 5 years, life has changed 180 degrees on so many levels — body, mind, spirit. There have been the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. But ultimately, the compass continued to point in the same direction and lo and behold, here I am.
Cancer (aka Benedict) was a PART of the story — but it is not THE story. And it is certainly not who I am. I couldn’t be more grateful for the part of the story it played. It brought heartache and struggle but also healing on more levels than those that involve scars and surgeries and chemo and radiation.
And so much unbelievable good has come. I could not have ever imagined up the life I’m now in. Believe me, I tried! 5 years ago there was plenty of meditating, vision boards, visualizing, and dreaming, and scheming.
But the real key was letting go, showing up, doing the best I could, being a portal of love and truth for myself and others—and loving and trusting that was enough.
It doesn’t need to take cancer to be able to do that. It doesn’t need to be hard or a struggle to get where you dream of going (or...couldn't possibly dream of going).
If you’re stuck....or overwhelmed...or feeling helpless...or on rock bottom. Or even on the mountaintop — know that things can and will continue to get better.
But you do have to believe — you have to hold it in mind for it to manifest. Faith, trust, and surrender are necessary ingredients. Even when it seems damn near impossible — a flicker of those 3 ingredients is better than none.
If a grapefruit-sized lung tumor that nobody can explain or find a solution to can shrink and eventually disappear, you too can overcome what seems insurmountable.
And most importantly — don’t forget to let go... and love. It’s completely ok to feel afraid with uncertain times that (most days) may seem like a total shit show.
But life’s too short for letting your own fear and opinions and worries destroy your own sanity or your relationships. And truly — remember that what seems dire and stressful now — you very well may forget about in 5 years.
Easier said than done sometimes — I know. If you’re having a tough time — let go and love yourself enough to tell someone, ask for help. Ask me. I’d be happy to chat with you. Judgment free. You’re worth it.
Sending love and gratitude to everyone who has been a part of this story — directly and indirectly. Your love, prayers, support, and encouragement did not go unnoticed. It takes a village — and my village is ginormous.
Now — I wonder what the next 5 years will bring, and what I’ll (we’ll) forget about then that we worried over now?
Which begs the question — with all the worrying and stressing and attempts to control and contributing to the divisive and dramatic stuff out there — is it REALLY worth spending our precious life on?
(I don’t want to spoil the end of the movie for you — but I’m going to anyway — You have made it through 100 percent of dramatic uncertain times, or you wouldn’t be reading this. It may have seemed dicey at times, and the outcome may not have always had a pretty bow on it, or it may have been downright gut-wrenching and tragic— but I’d be willing to bet there was a beautiful lesson and opportunity for gratitude in there somewhere).
In love and health,