If you have followed my journey, which began on this day, five years ago.....it is no secret to you what a milestone this is for me. I can say.... with authority....with conviction....and certainty... that I kicked cancer's booty!! I can "laugh without fear" of my future.
Since that time, I've been able to realize and recognize all of His miracles around me...both large and small. How He sets things in motion for you? Or completely puts a halt to something that is not HIS plan. Or HIS timing. I see now how He works in my life. And in the lives of those around me. Oh, what a beautiful life we lead!!!!
Happiness is everywhere. It is in Him, and what you make of the life He has given you. It is not found in others. It is found in Him....and who HE places in your path. I've learned to "be still".
Upon reflection, I feel like I am a completely different person now than I was then. So much so that I wanted turn back time to write a letter to myself to prepare me for April 23, 2012.
April 22, 2012
Tomorrow you will be diagnosed with breast cancer. You will head into your first physical in years because....YAY! you finally have health insurance. After an exam, you are gonna turn around twice and you'll be wiping off your deodorant for a mammo. Dr. H will then say the dreaded words, "I've got nothin good to tell ya....You have breast cancer." You then will hear little else and you’ll nod along because, well, they don’t think you know a darn thing about cancer.
Oh, sweet naive Terri, you just have no idea what the next year will have in store for you. There will be more physical pain involved than you’ve ever had to deal with in your life, and you will be stripped down emotionally to a depth that you’ve never experienced before and would never want to experience again. You will feel vulnerable, and attacked, and carry a sadness that you’ve never known before. You will lay awake at night and tears will stream uncontrollably down your face as you plead with God to let you stay with your babies for as long as possible. You will progress through surgeries, biopsies, tests, scans and chemo and it will feel like getting pushed off a cliff.
You are going to feel that everything beautiful about you is stripped within a matter of days. You will have a bald head and a 12-year old chest....and the worst part? You won't care. You will take it personally, anytime you hear of someone around you with a new diagnosis. You will wanna kick cancer right in the teeth. Because, let me tell ya....it suuuuucccckssss.
After treatments are over, and the hair grows back, and you gain tons of weight (Yes....I realize you just lost 40 lbs....so enjoy it while it lasts. You will be the only person on the planet to blow up from chemo!!) and time passes....people will forget. You will suffer loneliness and fear and sadness. You will find yourself living for each doctor appointment, because after all....you pay him to talk about cancer. You are naive, and stupid, and you just don’t get it. Some days will seem like just a whirlwind and you’re doing your best to keep up. Some days will go so slowly and you will feel so isolated and alone, no matter who may be in the room with you. You will, with every passing holiday and birthday, sit and wonder if you will be around to see the next one. You will even wonder why YOU are chosen to survive, yet others succumbed to the illness. You’ll be so tired and in pain some days that you don’t even want to get out of bed.
But you do.
Oh..yes, dear one, you do.
You will find that this gut-wrenching experience will hold more blessings than you ever thought possible. You will, for the first time in your life, have to fully rely on God for everything. And He will be faithful. Every time. You will feel more loved and supported by your friends and family and church and neighbors and even some people that you don’t know, but who are burdened for you and care about you. You will want for nothing and in allowing yourself to be stripped to the bone emotionally, you will experience God’s presence so closely that you will spend your days striving for more and more of Him. Many things will begin to make sense, and many pieces of the puzzle will come together, and you will grow in your faith more than you ever imagined possible.
You will feel broken and whole. You will feel uneasy and fulfilled. You will learn to break the cycle of trying to control your own faith and God will break through and reveal things to you that you don’t feel you deserve to know. You’ll realize that you have no strength to fight this on your own, but that God himself will sustain you each and every day and that He will nudge His people to take care of you on so many levels. Your relationships will be strengthened beyond what you thought possible and you’ll realize that it isn’t just your fight, it’s everyone who loves you’s fight too. You will make so many new friends and you will reconnect with old friends, it’s really pretty awesome.
You will begin to write. And write. And write. This is where your therapy will lie. In your words. Careful, though. Some will call you inspirational. Others may use it against you. Don't let Satan in!!!! You will fall on your face before God. And beg Him in. And He answers. And carries you. And holds you close.
Great things will happen! Your kiddos will prove that they can face adversity and fears that most kids their age will never have to.....and with grace. Sam will thrive during his last years of high school, his teams will succeed and he will just fall in love with LIFE! Your Sydney Clare will continue being a light and do what she loves....dance. Both will be a beacon for Christ and make you so incredibly proud. You will get to witness their dreams coming true....one by one by one. Girl, they are gonna teach you SOOOO much! You will realize that living with cancer and with the fear of recurrence is still living. And for that you should be grateful.
You will be given four....yes FOUR...new sons, who will fill your home and your heart that will challenge you, laugh with you, love you, and NEED you. You will get to face motherhood head on....and you will need His guidance and faith and Grace as you succeed some days, yet fall short on others.
You will find your purpose in this. You will be pushed and you will be reluctant sometimes, but God will guide you. You will experience miracles. Yes, you will! Your entire being will change. Things that used to matter, won't. Grace will overwhelm you! And you will learn that the practice of it will save you. You will learn to forgive. Others. But most of all, you will learn to forgive yourself.
Put up your dukes....and fight like a girl! Hang tight to your Lord, because one day...you will sit in a church pew and hear your brother say the words..."See Terri? You didn't have to be scared of cancer....God had it all along."
You can do this. You’ve got this. Saddle up for the ride and kick some cancer booty! <3
Future "5th year SURVIVOR" Terri