Skip to main content

Journey? What journey?

When you get diagnosed with cancer, everyone refers to it as a journey. Friends say, "this is a journey, hang in there," doctors say, "this is a journey we're on together," strangers say, "you'll learn so much on this journey."

I don't know about you, but when I think of a journey, I think of something that is going to be enjoyable, something I planned for entertainment, for adventure. I think of a journey as something that will be exciting and bring new experiences to my life.

I do not think of a journey as something that will bring you hurt and pain and depression. I do not think of a journey as something that will lift you up one day and bring you down the next. I do not think of a journey as something you have to struggle through in order to get to the reward on the other side.

It turns out, the word has a French origin and was used to refer to a day's work, or travel. It's also defined on as "traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time; a trip." (Key phrase here, "rather long time). 

I have truly spent a lot of time thinking about what this is if it's not a journey. A hurdle? A challenge? Just one of those life lessons you have to live through? But there just doesn't seem to be a good definition for it.

I've come to realize perhaps it really is a journey, it's just how you read the definition of it. Nowhere in those official definitions does it say the journey is a chosen one. Nowhere in those definitions does it say it will be an enjoyable trip. Nowhere in those definitions does it say that journey will be exciting and full of adventure and fun new things. In fact, it says it takes a rather long time and takes you from one place to another. 

If there's one thing I've learned, cancer diagnosis and treatment is a long haul. My first abnormal tests were in November, more tests in December, more tests in January; a diagnosis, 2nd opinions and one month, (almost 6 weeks later), a surgery, then more tests, then more surgery, now more tests and more surgery. What started as a best case scenario of 6 weeks and this is over for you, turned into 6 months and now looks more like 9 months if not longer. There are more appointments ahead and more test results pending that could change things at any time; and when I say any time, it's literally any time. Last week an appointment was perfect, hopeful, finally the break I had seemingly been wanting; 4 hours later a voicemail from the doctor he needed to talk to me, a conversation the following day that delivered some concerning, but not life changing news, then the next day an 8:30 a.m. Phone call that changed everything..... again. 

So perhaps cancer is a journey; it certainly lives up to the definition that says it usually takes a rather long time. 

It has also certainly lived up to the definition that you travel from one place to another; not only physically, but spiritually. Sure, you go from medical offices, doctor appointments, hospitals and cancer centers, but you also find yourself traveling deep within yourself to look for inspiration and meditation to find grace, to find peace, to find your escape from pain (It can't all be Valium and oxy!).

For me, the biggest part of that spiritual journey has been my relationship with God. From the beginning, I felt like God was trying to get my attention, to get me to listen to him, to get me to let go of the control I had on my life, my marriage, my job and hear where he wanted me to be in all of those things.  

I've gone to church my entire life, I pray, I read the Bible, I worship, but I can honestly tell you that I have never gone to God every day in constant need and only had him to deliver my needs. 

There are times now I go to God every hour of the day. Sometimes I ask for healing. Sometimes I ask for patience with my children, my husband, my doctors. Sometimes I ask for him to take away the anxiety and worry. Sometimes I find myself lamenting in the "what if's" and then realize I need to ask God to take back the control and once again help me relinquish the plan. 

It is seriously the hardest thing for me to do. I am not a patient person. I want answers. I want them fast. I want broken things fixed and I do not want to wait. 

I do not know why the plan for this cancer journey has included setbacks and answers I did not want, but I trust in the end, it will be his will and he has no plans to harm me, only to prosper me. And by the very definition of a journey, it could take a rather long time. 


Popular posts from this blog

My Head is Spinning

It's easy to explain a cancer diagnosis. It's NOT easy to explain what happens after it. The physical part is the easy part. Doctors tell you what to expect, survivors tell you what to expect, everyone seems to have a good handle on that (although, trust me, there are still things people leave out - like how cavernous your armpit will be once those lymph nodes and all that tissue is removed! I'm still struggling to find a way to shave. Can someone invent a razor with a spherical head please?).

It's not over when surgery is over, though. There's more to come. For some, it's chemo, radiation, infusions and drug therapy. For others, like me, it's reconstruction and more surgeries, recovery and rehab.

But the thing is, in between those surgeries there's this sort of
"down time." You're going on with life, trying hard not to look too long in the mirror, trying hard not to dwell on the still long road ahead, trying hard not to sink into the …

The Burden of Strength, the Blessing of Home

Being strong, both physically and mentally, is not always a blessing. When you're strong, people expect you to always be strong. They expect you to be able to do it all yourself, and they expect you to be okay with whatever is happening.

In 5th grade, my dad redid a bedroom for me and my sister and I was the one designated to help hang drywall. My nickname as a kid was "Moose" because I was bigger than my petite little brothers and sisters, and I was strong. So I held the drywall while dad nailed away and as much satisfaction as it gave me to be part of that, and learn what it takes to remodel a room, I did come out with a whack on the head from a sledgehammer due to a little mishap.

As a young woman, I did my own moving every time I packed up and hit a new city for a new job. Nothing's off limits. I've moved a piano, bedroom furniture, TV's, even a concrete tabletop. I've moved those things up and down stairs! My husband knows he can ask me to lift the…

Cancer's Highs and Lows

It has been forever since I've blogged... and that has been by choice. I'm not too busy. I'm not overwhelmed. I'm not lacking in things to say. But the last eight months have been wrought with difficult, unexpected, depressing emotions.

The cancer diagnosis was a rollercoaster ride from the start, but by the time I made it to surgery #3 last July, a surgery that by all accounts was the "good" one, the one that would put me back together, I all of a sudden felt anything but positive feelings about it. Two weeks before the operation I was as depressed and full of angst as I was the week I was diagnosed. What the heck? Where was that coming from? Things were going well! This was going to be good!

I never really got to the root of why those thoughts came back, I decided I simply hadn't dealt with them as fully as I thought, and I moved on. I decided I didn't know what to say or how to say it when it came to feeling so low, so "better left unsaid&qu…