Thankfulness for What I Have

A Guest post from my friend Maggie who recently finished treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma:

The real question is…. after being a bald woman for 6 months… once my hair grows back, will I ever complain about it again? Look at it and constantly wish it was different? “Better?”


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In all honesty, I used to think “it’s too thin/it’s not straight enough/it doesn’t grow long enough/etc etc etc”. Her (fill in random person) hair is better/nicer/prettier/etc etc. I wish mine was (fill in the blank…) oh yeah and my eyebrows are too thin. And my lashes aren’t long enough. And and and…
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Now I’m like “where should I draw my eyebrows on today… I think they *should* probably go right about…here??? 🤷‍♀️😆 some days it’s super annoying but some days I have fun with it. Maybe I draw on just one to be weird and crack up with my husband at how funny I look 😆. That’s me being me. You have to just make jokes when you can… you gotta be able to laugh  And the Lashes? What lashes? They all fell out.

I’ve never been a super girly girly but let me tell ya these changes have not been easy.
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So I’m reflecting. A lot. Perspective is a funny thing. Hindsight is 20/20. You can always see clearer when you’re looking back on things. And that’s okay sometimes, I think. The real important thing is you learn, you grow, you change.
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What am I learning? Here’s a few things: thankfulness for what I have; how comparison is the thief of joy; how you don’t realize how good you have something until it’s gone. Even the vary things you complain about. Or think aren’t good enough. They actually are treasures. Sometimes wanting more/better/different xyz… it’s a lie. It steals your happiness. I’m learning as the Bible says “to be content in all situations… in need and in want…”. Still learning.
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These are things we often hear, sometimes said as cliches. “You don’t know what you got til it’s gone”, for example. We’ve all heard it a million times. maybe we know this logically, but how often do we pause, reflect, and actually apply these and other truths to our hearts? Experience them?
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What does this look like for me? Well, now, I have some dark “thick” (in comparison to my previous bald potato head) buzz coming in. and I’m all like…. WAHOOO!!!

And even funnier… I’ve really missed my thin wavy floppy baby soft hair. Yeah, the stuff I complained about a lot, and thought wasn’t “good enough”, should be better, was insecure of at times, in this way or that.
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How many things do we do that with in our lives? I’ll be the first to admit it; the hair is just one example. There are other areas of myself at times I’ve wished were “different” or “better”. Don’t we all? we’re human. Imperfect beings. Psychologically we more naturally remember the negatives more easily than the positives. We can be at times critical of ourselves or others. We look to what’s next, what’s better, we compare. And the 10 good things that happened today can be clouded by the one “not so good” thing. But we don’t have to just accept worldly standards and labels for our hearts and minds.
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Let’s choose to fight to focus on the good. Challenge the thoughts that tell us something about us, something we have, isn’t good enough or would be better some other way. Often those are lies, and they steal contentment. Acknowledge the negative but don’t let it take over. Learn and grow and challenge the status quo. I believe we find freedom in doing this, and we don’t have to do it alone. God is with us and for us and wants us to be free, to experience the joys of each day! And even as a person who has SUFFERED… let me be clear… SUFFERED physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually through now 8 months of being REALLY sick… I have fought to find and focus on the joy. ❤️
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Has it been perfect? No. Has it been easy? definitely not. Have I needed lots of help and support from my husband, my family, my friends, my church? Oh yeah! But it is possible. I choose to fight for this. Even in the darkest storms of life and the scariest moments. Even in the face of trauma. There can be peace. There can be joy. We can be hopeful and expectant. I know because I have experienced it. And it’s available to everyone!
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So Im still learning a lot. And my perspective is stretching. So while I’m NOT happy I got cancer or for all the ways it has wrecked me or my loved ones, I AM thankful for what it is teaching me. Never thought I’d be able to say that, honestly.
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So… yes. I think Ill be happy if/when my hair comes back, just as it was before. Or… even if it’s different. Because honestly… it’s really not as important as I thought it was after all.

What My First Chemo Taught Me

We have a guest post from my friend Maggie today. She was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and speaks today about the lessons she learned with her first chemo. Thanks Maggie for your being brave enough to share your story along the way! 

The school of life gives us lessons in perspective, and for me, I’ve been learning so much lately. One thing my oncologist said to me is that this whole experience and journey with cancer will really change me. It will open my eyes in new ways to the world around me, and make me appreciate the little things even more than I did before. It won’t let me sleep walk through life as some people do, hardly realizing when the sun shines and the flowers bloom. It hasn’t been long, but already I’ve found this to be so true.

Like most brides, I was so concerned with getting in shape for our wedding, growing my hair long and taking good care of it (even buying nice products for once!) and making sure things were “just right”. Now it seems so silly; I honestly don’t care about those things. And I realize that so many other things of that sort have taken up valuable thoughts, energy, mental space for me. I hope to continue to grow in that— realize what actually matters and is worth my mindspace, energy, time.

Now I’m just so happy and thankful I’ll be able to even have my wedding, marry my best friend, and that I probably won’t feel that sick that day! Praise the Lord! I’m thankful that from my first cycle of chemo, I know my “sick/pain/bad days” will be about 7 of every 15, and I’m so thankful that I get to have a “good week” where I can be outside, eat good food, walk around, and smile without pain! Life is brighter. I’m already changing. I’m so much more thankful for those “normal”, regular days than I ever was before!

My hair started falling out, and I thought I’d be devastated when that happened. But I actually got excited. Weird, right? so I dyed it a fun color, and chopped it short. Something I never would have wanted to do but, I actually like it! And I’m thankful to have some fun with it on it’s way out.

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I am thankful I worked out a class schedule that works too! (With No class on chemo days!) and my school was so helpful in enabling me to keep working towards my goals in education.

I’m thankful for warm weather, for family and friends, for summer adventures to come, and for the countless ways God has provided for me during this stormy season — through all those around me. Your prayers are working. Know that they have sustained me, and God has been so faithful. There have been dark moments and very hard times, and your prayers have carried me though them.

Every little word, gift, message, encouragement— it has meant the world to me and Travis. Thank you for being with us and being Jesus hands and feet. I would not be in the place I am without you. I know the hard days will be hard, I will be sick and in pain, and it will not be easy. But the storm will pass and I hope to come out a stronger, wiser, more thankful woman. Thank you to everyone for being a part of our life!

Ps: Travis surprised me with a BIKE!!!!!!

 

Cancer – The One Word That Changes Everything

Cancer. It’s my life’s work. My calling. It’s a word that makes people shudder. It’s a life changing diagnosis. Once the word cancer is uttered by a provider, that patient’s life will never be the same. Their world is suddenly turned upside down by just one word. Cancer.

I devote hour after hour to provide the best care possible, both indirectly and directly, to cancer patients. To me, this is the reason God put me on this earth. I can, and have previously on this blog, gone on and on about how incredible it is to work in the field I get to work in. On Friday as I was walking out of work I was talking with a co-worker who recently had a loved one diagnosed with cancer. She made the comment that it is really incredible the perspective that cancer, both fortunately and unfortunately, gives one person on life.

I’ve sat with many patients as they digest that 3 weeks ago they were living a normal life and now they are in the hospital indefinitely with a diagnosis that could cut their life expectancy in half. I’ve sat with the mom who says “I just want to see my kids grow up” or “I just want to see my child get married next month”. I’ve walked through the hair loss and grief process that goes with losing something you’ve never lived without. I’ve sat with the young adult who’s arms are so bruised up from being poked, they start crying before the needle even comes near them.

But no matter how much I deal with it day in and day out, it’s always different when a loved one of mine is diagnosed. I got into this field because of watching so many loved ones walk through it, but each time it happens, my heart continues to break. It doesn’t change the heaviness or ache that is in my heart. In fact, I think the more I know, the more my heart aches, because I know too much about the road ahead.

My beautiful friend Maggie recently heard that one word. Cancer. She has cancer. She was in grad school and planning a wedding to her dream guy, when her world crashed into pieces around her. And my heart breaks that with my recent move, I am now 4 hours away from her.

Cancer.

Maggie and I met at church and had an instant connection. It was one of those we couldn’t talk fast enough to each other, because the comfort level was there from the beginning, and the “me toos” just kept on coming. We think alike. Dress alike (have shown up in the exact same outfit, more than once). We have similar passions and dreams. And no matter how long it’s been, we can pick up right where we left off. Maggie is one of those people that has made me realize I’m not alone in this world. She’s a lively spirit, that has a passion for life, and chases after her dreams with every fiber in her being. She has a heart for God and to serve others.

So when I got the news today, I stopped dead in my tracks. I must have looked pretty lost because the people at Whole Foods kept checking to make sure I was okay. Cancer. It’s struck again. This is the thing about cancer, it doesn’t have a bias. It can choose anyone. While yes, there are things that you can do to help prevent it or raise your chances, but it still can strike wherever and whoever it wants. And it does. And in an instant cancer, changes everything by rearing it’s ugly head.

But true to Maggie and her fiance Travis’s character, they’re choosing hope and to fight with all their might. They are choosing to not let cancer win. They are choosing to face it head on, to get married, to plan for a family, and to love the God they serve. And this. This is what keeps me going day in and day out in the field of oncology. People like my precious friend Maggie and her fiance Travis. That know no matter what the outcome is in the number of days, they don’t let cancer win because they choose to live every day.

Read more about Maggie’s Story Here

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