Posts tagged ‘cancer’
I’ve had at least twenty ideas for new blog posts over the past several months. But I’ve not been able to write them. Sometimes it’s difficult to form words around what my heart really wants to say. To go to the levels it takes to process thoughts enough to put them into sentences – much less sentences people can read.
But, I love being a writer. And I’m learning as time goes on, my place in this world is to be a writer. I don’t take the job lightly.
As a writer, I talk about the world as I see it. It helps me contribute and give back. It makes me process. And in that processing, it validates others.
Writing helps me cope with the loss of my friends. There’s been a lot lately. It helps me say farewell and leave a lasting tribute to them. It helps me remember the great things about them. When I can write about losing a friend, somehow the writing seals in the memories. Recently I said goodbye to my friend Belle. She was a writer, too.
Writing also helps me celebrate. I write a lot for work. I penned the celebration of the president recognizing Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – something we didn’t expect this year. I wrote about my 14th “Survivor-versary.” I like to write about good things too. Life’s too short to stay focused on the negative.
So today, I write. Why today, I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s because my strength is gone after a long week of traveling and I lack the energy to do much more then string words together for a blog. Maybe it’s because a well of emotions sits heavy on my heart as close friends continue to battle disease and hug their loved ones for what they fear will be one last time. And maybe it’s because over the past several weeks as I’ve sought after my purpose and role God would have me play in this big journey – this big problem – called cancer, I keep hearing one constant word: write.
I recently renewed the domain name to this blog and realized I’ve not written one post all year. ALL YEAR!
Part of that is unintentional. Working at Fight Colorectal Cancer means that it’s “go time” right when January starts. For two months we work nonstop in preparations for March – Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. And then once March hits – we’re in a flurry of activity. I’ve ridden in more airplanes, subways and taxis the past three weeks than I have in my entire life.
And every second’s been worth it.
So, I’m just now slowing down after a crazy few months and personally blogging again. And while my activities have taken up the majority of my time, my schedule isn’t the only excuse for not blogging lately. There’s another reason.
Not all of this journey is public. And honestly, I didn’t feel like it.
If I’ve given awareness to anything over the years, I hope it’s a few things: colorectal cancer in general; a hope that faith can carry you through anything; and, the realization that this disease has many layers and can hit you in different ways.
The KC Star ran my story in January through a full-page spread in the FYI section and an AP-syndicated story that followed. It was certainly gracious of them, and unexpected by me. I had no idea my little birthday bash would soon become a headline story across the U.S. (or I guess the world, since an Australia newspaper picked it up.) For the past several months I’ve seen my face behind The Colossal Colon in many news feeds and articles on a nearly daily basis.
Between my job at Fight CRC and the publicity of my birthday party, I’ve had more doors open to share my story than ever before. Hospital newsletters, Sirius Radio, colon cancer walks, the Today Show… just to name a few. And while all of this has been amazingly awesome… I’ve not blogged about it much.
Because not everything is public.
No, there are no secrets I’m hiding. My marriage is great. Daughter is amazing. All-in-all, things are going really awesome here. But in the midst of a crazy few months, I’ve taken the slow moments I do have to soak it all in and process how I’m feeling – and not through the Internet. Sharing links to social media are easy. Writing blog posts about the experiences – not as much. While this blog is an amazing tool to share my life and my thoughts with others, I’m learning it’s OK to not share everything. Or at least right away.
There are some moments reserved just for me and my family. Some experiences that I’ve wanted to process and think through before posting about. Some days that weren’t ready for the headlines. And I’ve come to let myself be OK with that.
Some who go through cancer or really, hard times in general, speak out right away. Others take a little while to get there and find their voice. And for me, I’ve gone back forth depending on the season. Sometimes I’m ready to say a lot; other times not so much. And what I’ve learned over the past three months of my “blog silence” is that it’s all part of the journey. God uses our experiences to help others when we’re ready. But sometimes that takes a bit of time to get there – or at least some time to process things personally before they inspire others publicly.
There’s no one way to fight or survive cancer. The different layers and phases are all part of the journey. Sometimes I speak out and blog about what’s happening. Other times, I don’t. Going quiet is OK. But, as this blog post shows, I don’t stay quiet for long.
I was “officially” diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome last week. At first, it didn’t phase me. But as the days went on and I took time to review the paperwork, it began to really sink in.
The implication of living with a known genetic disorder is enlightening yet heavy. It’s good on one hand – aggressive monitoring for me and preventing disease in family members is a plus.
But it’s also hard – loss of a ‘normal’ doctor-free life and a reminder of a journey paved with loss also knocks at my door.
I’ve taken the past week to let it all sink in. Rather than brushing it to the side as if it’s “no big deal” (my pattern in the past), I’ve really tried to be introspective with my feelings.
Especially my faith.
And then today, a sermon came along and stopped me in my tracks when the preacher said:
Jesus Doesn’t Fix Everything – But He Does Help us Through It.
Come to Me All Who Are Weary
I grew up in a Christian community that like it or not – carries unspoken rules on how we handle trials in our lives. It’s part of the gig – which I would never trade. But, there are a few things I would change.
It’s typical for us to respond to trials thinking if we pray hard enough or have enough faith, Jesus will take away our situation and fix everything. As Christians, we put a smile on our face and say we’re trusting God without really letting ourselves grieve.
Rejoicing, encouragement and joy through trial is certainly part of the journey. God meets us in our despair and provides hope – so I’m not saying this doesn’t happen.
All too often though, Christians spit out quick verses like nicotine patches, hoping they’ll take the deep grief away. But ask any smoker – those patches don’t always work. And sometimes, our loss or sorrow is so deep, we need more than a quick devotion or verse to get us through.
Jesus says, “Come who are weary…” not “Come … although you’ve got yourself already pulled together.”
Struggling with Faith in the Midst of Trial
Jesus wasn’t immune to grief or sorrow – in fact he was surrounded by it. So while he might not “fix” everything, he does provide what we need to get through it.
A holy perspective on any trial will change everything.
Today, “Terror in Boston” is scrolling across my television screen. I have friends suffering from marriages falling apart, children getting sick, deep depression taking hold, and checkbooks bouncing.
Lots of tears. Lots of cancer. Lots of pain. Lots of fear.
Trial is something we will all deal with at some point.
If you’re looking for hope or guidance on how to get through trials, I suggest taking an hour and listening to the sermon below. There comes a point when reciting verses and plastering on a cheery smile won’t hold you through some of the darkest days.
And hearing that it’s OK – and how to still have faith in the midst of it – was a game changer for me today. I pray that others will also find this extremely encouraging and helpful.
No, Jesus doesn’t fix everything. But, he loves us and will help get us through.
Trial & Jesus
1 Peter 1:3-9
Mark Driscoll – Mars Hill Church
Listen to the audio here: http://marshill.com/media/trial/trial-and-jesus
Long time no post. I know… I’ve been busy.
But today’s revelation is blog worthy.
For some of us, God miraculously removes our cancer. For others of us, we have to fight.
Both roads are equally part of His plan.
Both roads are good.
Jerichos and Ais…
We talked about Joshua of the Bible today at church.
Most of us know about Jericho – Joshua’s squad marched around the city and the walls fell down.
But just a few chapters later, there’s another city, Ai, which God also told Joshua to seize.
Except this city didn’t fall like Jericho. Joshua had to follow God’s strategic plan for Ai to conquer it.
As my pastor explained, “Sometimes God gives us “Jerichos” in our life – our challenges can be tackled with ease and creativity. Other times, God calls us to “Ai” – our challenges must be faced with strategy and toil.”
And then it hit me.
This can apply to the fight against cancer, too.
Two roads to the fight against cancer
For some of us – our cancer experience is a Jericho.
God miraculously takes away tumors and cancer cells. The cancer goes away. We are healed.
For others of us, the road is not so easy. Roadblocks. Recurrence. Treatment. We put things in place to help us survive… which is not even a guarantee.
Even if we do not get dealt the Jericho, it does not mean that God’s turned his back on us.
We have to remember what “victory” truly means.
Just take it from Joey…
As a youth, I remember Joey Butler’s loud voice echoing through the old chapels at youth camp. I was saddened today to read an article in the KC Star about his advanced disease.
But just like God used him to encourage my young faith as a teen, I was encouraged today by his words now as a fellow cancer survivor:
“This circumstance [cancer] is teaching my family and friends to trust God,” he says. “This is not all there is. You know there’s more to come after this life. … This is not our final destination.”
For Joey, it seems that he didn’t get the road to Jericho when it came to his cancer diagnosis.
His cancer journey is more like the conquest of Ai. Aggressive treatments to fight the cancer have failed. I’m humbled by his response:
“Here’s what belief means: It means I put all my belief, all my weight, on Christ. I’m all in,” he continued. “I’ve had no regrets.”
But Joey knows that the “victory” in cancer for us Christians is not that we defy death.
Instead, it’s that we let God use our cancer journeys to save lives.
Even if those roads to victory look more like Ai than Jericho.
Over the past several days, I’ve had the opportunity to get together with Taylor. While unknown to most of the world, those who’ve seen the documentary Rainbow Town know who I’m talking about. Taylor is one of the children featured in a film about a Liberian orphanage and is currently traveling around the United States. My friend Amy hosted him over the weekend and today he spoke at our church. As I’ve gotten involved with Rainbow Town, my heart’s grown for this amazing group of people in West Africa. Not only are they beautiful, courageous and strong. I’m convinced they’re some of the most faithful individuals on the planet.
Emotional roller coaster
I’ve experienced many emotions during the few interactions I’ve had with Taylor. I imagine this is common when you either travel to third-world countries or meet people from them. Guilt – I was born a “Westerner” and have “simple” privileges like cars and credit cards. Sadness – no child should have to live through war. Embarrassment – he must think we’re so lazy. (He walks 1 hr 45 min to school ONE WAY!) Excitement – his passion to be a pastor is contagious. Joy – God SAVED him! And most of all – humbled. Now that’s a survivor.
I am a survivor of cancer. And Taylor, he is a survivor of war. And while I certainly am not trying to liken our experiences – I do understand life-threatening situations that leave physical wounds, emotional scars and life-changing consequences. We both identify with the word “survive.”
The thing about Taylor though is that he doesn’t find his identity in survivorship. He’ll openly talk about being orphaned at birth and tied naked to a tree as a 4-year-old when rebels overtook his country; however, Taylor always ends with the point that God saved him. God had mercy on him and rescued him. No calls for pity. No room for tears. He shares his story to share about Jesus.
Finding Purpose in our Pain
Taylor’s story isn’t about Taylor – it’s about Christ. And that’s the way it should be. This teen has already found the purpose for his difficult life circumstances. He has no question about why he survived war, and what he’s to do now. And I’m rapidly taking notes.
I live in America where we process our feelings and talk about what happened. In the midst of it, we also get a “free pass” when it comes to our faith. We often aren’t pushed to lay down the pride and selfishness that can come with surviving something so awful. (After all – we do get a lot of attention and free t-shirts.) Instead, we can fall into the trap of self-pity and let ourselves off the hook. We think we’re acting like the Psalmist when we question God and blame him. However, for many of us – we can stay camped out at that place way too long, or never fully let God back into our hearts to do His work.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to have met Taylor. He’s showed me once again that there is purpose in survival that is far beyond ourselves. God works for our good and He loves us. No, life’s not always easy. And things aren’t going to be fair. But that doesn’t take away the fact that we are to fear Him and that He wants to use us. If we will just open up our hearts to Him, the journey through survival will make so much more sense… from any part of the world.