I have been rolling this blog post around in my mind for a while now trying to say what I am really feeling. For the most part, my blogs are upbeat and positive. I try to always find joy in every situation and help others see that even in the darkest of times there is light.
The last four months have been hard. There have been a lot of physical changes, from surgery to chemo and its side effects, but what I haven’t talked about is the spiritual and mental battles that come along with a potentially fatal diagnosis.
When the word cancer was first mentioned I took it very hard. I would lie awake at night thinking about all I would be missing in the years to come. How would Chris handle raising three boys? How can I make sure everyone is prepared for me to potentially not be around. My mind went to very dark places. I questioned why God would do this to me, to us. I questioned what I had done wrong in my way of living to cause the cancer. Was it something I ate? Was it the products I had used? Were my genes to blame? Would I be passing this on to my kids? There were so many questions and for weeks finding the positive was nearly impossible.
When I received the actual diagnosis of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and was told that it was found early and a stage II, I felt relief. I remember hearing “state 2” from my surgeon and saying out loud, “It’s only stage 2”. Once the actual diagnosis came down it was easier to find hope and joy. I no longer felt I had a death sentence. I believed with all my heart I could fight and win. Looking back I wonder how I would have reacted had I heard it was stage 4 and terminal. Would I have been able to find joy? Would I have been able to remain positive and share Jesus even with a literal death sentence? I hope I would, but thankfully that is not something I have to find out.
When I write blog posts I often hear from the readers how positive I am and how much of an inspiration I am to so many. I have struggled feeling worthy of those titles. There are days I don’t feel positive. There are days I don’t think anyone would see me as an inspiration. There are days it is hard to get out of bed and put on a smile. There are times I am not okay, and everyone needs to know that it is okay to not be okay! (As a side note, I am honored by the positive responses I am getting from this blog and love your input, kind words, and encouragement to keep writing!)
We all face battles. Whether it’s in our career, our marriage, our family, or our health, we all have struggles. It is okay to be upset. It is okay to have pity parties. It is okay to question God and wonder why it is happening to you or someone you love. What is not okay is staying in that valley for too long.
Over the past 20 years, probably longer, I have battled with depression and anxiety. For years I allowed it to rule my life. I allowed it to dictate every aspect of my being, including keeping me out of the church and away from God for nearly seven years. That is the part that is not okay. If you are in that place right now, ask for help. If you know someone struggling with their battle, offer to suit up and fight with them. Provide strength and encouragement, but be brave enough to give tough love when they need it.
Having a strong support system is critical to winning a battle. I am blessed to have so many fighting alongside me right now. I am blessed to have family that has stuck by me through my darkest times and helped me find the help I needed. This journey has brought back fears of going back to those dark places, but with the help of our Lord and the people He has placed in my life, I feel confident I won’t slip, and if I do they won’t let me fall far.
I want to end with a few lyrics from a song that I have always loved, but that holds more meaning to me now. It is a song by Martina McBride, most of you have probably heard it. It’s called, I’m Going to Love You Through It. The song tells the story of a woman, the same age as I am, that gets a breast cancer diagnosis. She goes through surgery and treatments and has some bad days. Her husband says the following:
When you’re weak, I’ll be strong
When you let go, I’ll hold on
When you need to cry, I swear
That I’ll be there to dry your eyes
When you feel lost and scared to death,
Like you can’t take one more step
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I’m gonna love you through it
We all have days where we feel we can’t go on. The tears start to flow and won’t stop. And that’s okay. My prayer is that you have someone there to hold you up, wipe your tears, and love you through it all.
I also listened to this song as if God was singing it to me. Some of the lyrics don’t work, because He is not physically here to hold my hand or dry my tears, but He is there to make sure I am never alone. He is there to take my fears upon His shoulders and carry that weight for me. He is always there to love me and help me through any battle. For that I am grateful.