Crossposted at Mothers With Cancer
Todd and I will celebrate our 21st anniversary in June. Some days it doesn’t seem half that long and others it seems like our golden anniversary is just a few years away. I’ve been trying to organize all my photographs from the past 21+ years and I can’t help but linger over pictures of the kids at different stages of their lives. It’s a bittersweet thing to be sure. How did Taylor go from that six-year-old muscle man to a junior in high school considering colleges and careers? Or that adorable three-year-old girl with the curly brown hair. When did Katie turn into a 14-year-old with the confidence to sing in front of an audience of junior high and high school students?
“Cherish these moments. They won’t last long.” How often did I hear those words when my kids were small? Probably more than I can count. I listened and I DID cherish those moments. The conveyers of such wisdom were right. Each instant was over in a blink of an eye.
I love getting a glimpse of the adults Taylor and Katie are turning into. Most of the time I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with my teenagers, but sometimes I wish I could just jump in a time machine and go back to when they were little.
Time is such a funny thing. It never goes at the same speed. When you’re sitting in a boring classroom those 50 minutes seem to stretch on forever. But when you’re doing something you love it seems to breeze by. While I was looking through the photographs it hit me. I’m three months shy of the four year anniversary of my diagnosis.
That first year felt more like several years. I’d start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, only to realize it was a speeding train heading right for me. It was a frustrating year, full of immense physical and emotional struggles. I really thought once I was told there was no more cancer (never thinking I might have a metastasis or recurrence) everything would get back to normal.
But instead of normal, my family moved, settled into our new home, and then I started planning my reconstruction. Once I felt recovered from that I found myself having a complete hysterectomy with removal of my ovaries, throwing me into instant menopause for the third time. It was just one thing after another after another.
2008 was the first year since my diagnosis that was truly good. It took three years for me to get to that point and it felt like forever. But now it sometimes seems like a lifetime ago. Until I wear myself out and end up with thrush and ulcers on the roof of my mouth, courtesy of whatever funky things chemo did to me three years ago.
I don’t delude myself into thinking it will ever be forgotten. My body will always carry the battle scars as reminders. I am once again a happy and contented person except now there is a bit of mournfulness just under the surface that wasn’t there before. That has gotten better with time and I am hopeful it will someday go away – maybe when I finally and completely accept my “new normal.”
Three-and-a-half years ago, when I had just barely started down this path, I thought the journey ended after the treatment and the reconstruction and hearing the words, “No Evidence of Disease”. At that time I felt as though I was progressing so slowly and the road to the final destination would be an excruciatingly long one. What I have learned, however, is the journey never ends. Thankfully the scenery changes, though. The desert that appears never ending does finally lead to greener pastures and the journey becomes much more tolerable and eventually pleasurable.
Just like I would love to travel back in time to when my kids were little, I would love to travel back in time to four years ago; before my world changed forever. But if I were to stay in the past I would miss out on so much the present has to offer. Two incredible teenagers who make me laugh and smile and, yes, a little crazy. And a life with more wisdom and depth and even purpose than I knew before.
So if you are in the middle of the desert and are blessed to fully recover from cancer, I offer you hope. The time may drag by right now, but this too shall pass. I promise.
I’m blessed, overwhelmed, amazed, and at a loss for words. Your story, every scrap of it, is a treasure. Here’s to that golden anniversary. Xxxooo
Gretchen (as usual) said exactly what my heart was struggling to say. I love love your perspective of the world. Seeing through your eyes blesses me beyond words.
Jen, this is absolutely beautiful and so are you! Happy Anniversary,Katie
For some reason, this post totally illustrated Psalm 23 for me.”…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”Beautifully stated (as always) Jenster. I praise God for His mercy and love, and look forward to how the Lord will continue to use your experiences for His Honor and Glory.
Beauitful post. You pour strength out of you and right into your readers.
I have been reading your blog for some time and certainly enjoy your comments and your zest for life. I too am a survivor for 6 years of the dreaded ovarian cancer, so I know of which you speak. The road was rough and the potholes many…but yaaaaa we made it!.Ruth
I could have written this. I completely understand it all. It is really nice to know there is someone else who understands what I feel and have a hard time explaining to other people who haven’t been through it all. Thank you. I truly feel blessed to have met you and hop some day to meet you in real life too!