It is hard to believe that I began my journey fighting cancer eleven years ago today! It just doesn't seem possible that it has been that long. So much has happened to change my life in these years. There has been much sadness with the loss of both of my parents and the loss of my precious daughter, Jennifer....don't think anything you go through in life can compare to the loss of a child...I don't think that as parents, it was meant to be that we bury our children. I do have faith and trust in God, and I know that He is the one with the plan for each of us and He knows the reason for everything...we will find out one day, but for now, I am very grateful for the promise that I will see my loved ones again....couldn't ask for more than that!
During the ten years after my diagnosis with breast cancer, I think I have become a stronger person and have learned to appreciate the little things in life that are so important...loving others and trying to do for others and to be a closer follower of Christ. One of the greatest joys I found through having cancer, is finding my new church home at Fellowship North. Had I not had cancer and my friend Joanna had not done my radiation and invited Jennifer and I to come to Fellowship North, I probably would not have this source of love, joy, encouragement, friendship, fellowship and spritual growth in my life. The first day that Jennifer and I walked in the door at FN, we knew that this is where we were meant to be....it truly feels like home and family...sure can't leave there without feeling better and wanting to be a better person and to follow Christ more closely...love the services on Sunday, love the Bible Studies, love the new friends I have made, love reconnecting with old friends like Joanna and Patti...introducing many of my friends to FN and seeing them make FN their new church home! It has been wonderful and I am so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful place!
The first ten years after my diagnosis went by so quickly...I had Stae IIIB Inflammatory Breast Cancer with a 30% chance of survival. I had six months of chemo, surgery, more chemo followed by radiation. I knew in my heart that God, our Heavenly Father and "The Great Physician", knew that I needed to be here to take care of and support Jennifer with her life-long battle with Cystic Fibrosis....she was now a young adult, which I was very proud of, but she still needed her Mother...will always, always be grateful for being able to take care of her and be there for her. I will always miss her every second of everyday, but I know that she knows how much I love her and that we will be together again. She knows that I did everything I knew to do to keep her healthy and happy....now she is eternally healthy and happy!
The first ten years after my diagnosis did go by quickly...not saying without a couple of stumbling stones...did have a hysterectomy, a couple of port infections, severe lymphedema, a broken leg etc....but all in all, it was a time that I don't regret. I have made new friends, lost some friends, reconnected with alot of friends from high school (thanks to facebook), been reconnected with old friends like Patti, Joanna and Mica, have a new passion in my life with paper crafting which has led to many new friends and has certainly been my source of therapy! I have wonderful new relationships with my nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews...which has certainly helped narrow the huge hole in my heart from losing Jennifer. The advent of the Jennifer Project to provide crafts and such for the patients in the hospital has given me so much joy by assuring that I keep Jennifer's memory alive! I am so grateful for all the friends and YaYa's for their continued support with this.....it means the world to me. I know how much time Jennifer spent in the hospital and in isolation not being able to leave the room...I know this project would make her happy!
My Mother always told me that with each of life's struggles, you somehow come out of them a little bit stronger....and she is right. I am a much stronger person than I was eleven years ago. Last October, I had to have a new hip replacement....which I am extremely grateful for...it has been wonderful to not have to worry about walking in pain all the time. Two months after the hip replacement, on December 21, 2009....I began this second battle with cancer. This was not expected by any means....but again, I know that God is in control and I totally trust Him...Having had the hip replacement just two months before is more proof that God works in His time on His plan...I can't imagine going through the chemo and such and still have to deal with the pain from my old hip...God is good! I just had my 12th round of chemo on Monday, still "Fighting Like a Girl"......seems like more and more people in my life...from my sister-in-law, Sue, who has just been diagnosed with cancer and beginning her fight to several friends from high school who are beginning or continuing to fight their own battles with cancer and other diseases...we have been brought together to help each other and be there for each other....it is a good day when I can say that I did some small thing to help or encourage someone......and I am ever so grateful for the love, encouragement and inspiration I receive from them. My husband and sister, Kimberly, are there with me every step of the way....they are my rock and my pillow. Like I have said so many times "I get by with a little help from my friends", hubby, sister and the love and grace of God. I consider myself to be very fortunate! I only hope that I will be able to support, encourage and help others the way I have been helped....like one of my stamp sets says..."we are in this together"! Last week, we had to say goodbye to our dear friend, Anita, who lost her courageous battle with cancer...she was so strong, caring, trusting and had so much faith...we will miss her so much and will always be grateful for the lessons she taught us and for the blessing of her friendship in our lives....one amazing lady, for sure!
No, time flies and I don't know how these past eleven years went by so quickly...but I am looking forward to celebrating my next ten years as a survivor! Let's see .....that will be the year 2020!