One thing I can say without a doubt is that 2019 was one of the most challenging years of my life. On January 2, 2019 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non Small Cell Lung Cancer and spent the year navigating what that meant for my life moving forward. The year brought many tears, lots of changes and countless areas of growth in my life. Instead of sharing all the ways I've grown this past year or complaining about how much the year has sucked, both which I could easily do, I want to share what I am still trying to make sense of. My desire is to show that we can have days that drain the life out of us, days that feel like sunshine on our face on a cool afternoon or days where we just go through the motions. What matters is that regardless of what the day brings, we continue to show up, grow, learn, and try to make the most of what we're given. So tomorrow I will show up just like I did today. I will reflect, grow, and challenge myself in the following areas so that I may live the best possible life no matter how long God finds it should be.
This leads me to the five areas in my life I am still trying to make sense of, not identify with and overall not be controlled by.
1) The first of these is how to not live my life in 3 month spans. As you may or may not know, once you begin to see stable or improving scans, doctors like to put you on 3 month intervals for updates. So every three months, I drag myself to the hospital full of anxiety to get an MRI and CT scan. It has proven to not be easy to live too far ahead because you never know what your next scans will bring.
2) The next area I am working on that ties into the last is how to not be living for the bad scan. With the type of cancer I have I take a medication daily that inhibits my gene mutation from forming and growing new cells in my body. However, the body eventually learns to adapt to the medication, but the span in which the body adapts varies for each individual. As a result, this causes me to be anticipating for when my body will adapt and causing me to move onto plan B in my treatment.
3) Since I have had to take a drastic step back in what I am doing this year, I am having to learn not to tie my self-worth to what I accomplish. I have always been striving and working towards something whether it be in school or a career. My most recent position as a teacher pushed me and gave me goals to feel accomplished. Suddenly I was forced into a space of stillness. Where my self-worth can no longer be tied up in worldly things. Instead I am trying to attach my worth into things that are less natural, but so much more rewarding. Yet, knowing that I am enough in Jesus does not make the transition any easier.
4) Again, tying into my previous area of growth, I am trying to remove the thought that staying busy makes me more...more worthy, stronger, fulfilled and enough. Instead I am working hard on accepting that whether I cross off every "to do" on my list or take an entire day to rest my body neither makes me a better person than I was before. What matters is my relationship with the Lord, how I treat others and what is in my heart.
5) The last area of my life that I am currently working through is trying to figure out how Braden and I will have a child. If you are unfamiliar with my story then you don't know that the medication that I am on for the unforeseeable future takes away my ability to carry a child. If I was to become pregnant then it would eventually result in a miscarriage. Once Braden and I were made aware of this prior to my treatment we made the decision to freeze my eggs. However, to use those in a surrogate situation we are looking at a price tag of over $80,000. To say it throws a wrench in our plans is an understatement.
Now I wish I could tie all these up nicely and tell you how I overcame each. In its place I want to leave you with the comfort that in their own time each will be figured out. It most likely will cause me more heartache, wrong turns and disappointment. No matter the journey to get there I know each of these areas will only strengthen my faith, grow me as an individual and deepen the love in my marriage. The key for me in accomplishing that is acknowledging my own shortcomings and doing the work to turn them into areas of strength.
Today I will say goodbye 2019 with gratitude for this year of life I was given and look forward to whatever 2020 wants to bring! I also want to give a big thank you for all the love and support over this past year. I would not be where I am today without all the individuals who surround and guide me through this crazy life!