Monday, May 16, 2011

i am not sure how to do this yet...

i am having a hard time with figuring out how to live in this new place in our life. in lots of ways it's easy. not that life is easy. i do not mean that. but i have heard that sometimes people who have had cancer have a real hard time adjusting after they become cancer free. which seems a little silly because...'um the cancer is gone. be grateful and move on. but its not always that easy i don't think. i am thankful that for the most part our life is returning to normal. in some areas its totally back to what it once was. the big difference for me is that i will never be as busy as i was before i got sick. i found a lot of worth and value in how much i had going on. how many things i could get done. how i spent my time and the more i had to do the better. although i do love to relax and hang out...our family keeps a pretty busy schedule. but don't we all? i am yet to meet anyone who feels like they have all this time on their hands and are not sure what to do with it...its just not how people tend to role these days. and i do not think its really even bad or anything like that. it just is. but i am less busy now. i am okay with not having every hour of my day planned. justin joked with me yesterday that his schedule and how my planner just said...9:15 little gym and then nothing else was written down for the day. i did do more than just that though. i am able to embrace doing "less" as i lived that for most of this past year. not many plans. not a long to do list. but instead doing what i could and not feeling like i owed anyone an explanation for that. but cancer ends and then all of a sudden you are not fighting cancer anymore so you have the time and energy to get back into life and do what you love and what's life giving.

so your healthy. you have a little seven month old baby. find out you are sick. it's cancer. which is crazy. so you treat the cancer in your body. a few months later the cancer is done. yay. treatment worked. done and done. you celebrate. but then randomly every three months you have to think about cancer again. you do not have it. i keep saying to people i am living like i am cancer free, because i am cancer free. until someone tells me otherwise i do not live in a constant state of fear. i refuse to live in fear. i believe with every part of myself that in Christ we are free to live. really live. fear is gone. but i am having a hard time with that now. as my first follow-up appointment approaches i am thinking about cancer and the possibility of it coming back. it's messing with my heart and my head. i know lymphoma is a curable cancer. but i know people die from it too. i know the likelihood of it returning is a very small percentage. but so was the percentage that i would even get cancer in the first place. i get emails and read stories of people who are five, ten. twenty years cancer free. but then i also get emails from people whose cancer did return. its just a tough place to be. i know what is true. i believe i have a greater understand that my life is not my own than i ever have in my life. but i am scared. i am scared about cancer coming back. i do not want to do it again. will i always feel anxious about follow-up appointments? maybe and is that okay? or will i feel better after i have had a few...all clear check-ups. i am not sure. i am not totally sure how to live in this place. this new place of you did have cancer and now you don't...but cancer will always be in our story. i say that a lot. because its true. but i am discovering that i am saying that mostly in regards to how cancer changed us and how we grew and what we learned. the good stuff. not the reality that for the rest of my life i will circle cancer on a medical info sheet. and that if it was in my body once am i more susceptible to it returning? i feel like the answer is yes. i am not sure the stats. i hate those anyways. i am just seeing myself in new territory. a place i have never been. cancer free, yes. but figuring out how to not be consumed with fear in the midst of rejoicing that the cancer is gone. i am almost three months cancer free. can you believe it? i can't. but its true.

justin and i went out on saturday night for our anniversary. we sat across the table and talked about this past year and what has happened and how far we have come. i shared with him my fears about cancer. as i was working on this post before we went out for dinner. he looked at me with all the confidence in the world..."babe, it has never crossed my mind once that your cancer would come back."

alright babe, i am running with that. no more cancer for us

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  1. Libby, I know what you mean. Follow up appointments made me anxious for a long time, but it gets better. I wish I could tell you when it got better, but I'm not sure. When it switches to yearly follow ups it makes you anxious all over again since you're waiting so long in between, but after a couple/few of those it was better :) Praying for you still!

  2. My Mom has cancer and I go with her to her appts after a pet scan. I am not even the one with cancer and I get so anxious. I feel like running out of the office. Hope you have a good visit with your upcoming appointment.

  3. Libby, I have been reading your blog for just a few months now - I found it through Kelle Hampton's blog. I just wanted to write today and tell you what a strong person I think you are, you truly inspire me! I can't say I know what you are going through at all but the way you carry yourself is inspiring! You are a Beautiful person, a loving mama and a great wife and I just wanted to write today after reading your post and tell you that. Prayers!!!

  4. Amen sister! Life goes on, we learn to not make it so fast, slow down, and enjoy. Me...when I speak to newby's of our families story....I wanna yell...look at me, learn from our story!...and sometimes I do.

  5. Libby ~ My husband also said that to me once about not ever thinking my cancer would return. (It hasn't, as far as I know, I just finished treatment 2 weeks ago so it BETTER be gone!!!) Maybe they say that and haven't thought it just because they're not the patient????? We're the ones that actually experience the twinges and go "OMG, is that the Hodge?!?!!" I'm trying to tell myself that every itch on my leg isn't a death sentence but MAYBE just dry skin. I have to remind myself that I can have normal aches/pains like anyone else. Keep your chin up - once our 2 year marks hit, we can exhale that huge sigh of relief we probably won't realize we've been holding. And since we both have kiddos, we'll be busy, and the time will fly by!

  6. Libby,

    I can't begin to relate to having cancer but I was thinking maybe it is sort of like when I had Tyler. I was so anxious with him I would sit and watch him breath and check on him all the time. Then his first cold seemed like a major ordeal now I look back and wish I wouldn't have been so anxious and just went with it. But I didn't, I couldn't and now as he grows I grow and we get used to things and it gets easier.

    So my prayer for you is that cancer will get further away in your thoughts but like meeting Justin and having Ava--everything has changed and it's OK to think about it.

    Hang in there and know you have so many people praying for you. I hope to see you and your beautiful family at the lake this year.


  7. Libby -
    You said it all so well, put everything into words that so many of us think & feel. People have told me to rest in knowing that God already knows the exact number of my days. Somedays that's comforting (thinking my cancer will not come back, I'll grow old with my husband, see my children grow up & have children of their own & I'll go home to be with Jesus someday when I'm old & gray). That is an incredibly comforting thought!! I know it's a daily fight but I like how you said you'll live like your cancer free until someone tells you otherwise. Having cancer makes you realize what's true - our life is not our own and every moment is truly a gift.

    I don't know about you ... but this past month as everything has come into bloom, the flowers have never been prettier, the sky has never been bluer (not a word, I know), and Spring has never been more beautiful.

    Thank you for your post. I am so thankful that you are cancer free and that your life is feeling more & more back to normal. God is so good!!

    PS Thank you for posting pictures from your wedding a few days ago ... they were beautiful!!

    Laura R.

  8. I still have anxiety every 3 months..when they are drawing my blood...when I see my oncologist...everything. The smell of the hospital walking in. blah! My 1 year appt was great...I celebrated after. In Feb 2012 I will celebrate 2 years...and I think thats what keeps me motivated...over that "hump" and we'll be ok...right?!? Good luck w/ your first appt...its a MUCH easier trip! :)

  9. I know exactly how you feel. My doctor even went as far as to say "I think you're cured," at my one year check up (also lymphoma, non-hodgkins). But he whispered it, like it was a dirty word. My hubby and I both believe it's never coming back, but we still get nervous each check up. They were surprised that we were even nervous last checkup, but if there was absolutely nothing to be nervous about, then why do they keep checking? I don't know that those feelings will ever go away, and I think that's ok. Each checkup is a reminder of our total dependance on God, and I think I'm ok with that reminder. Living gets easier, but the experience never leaves you. Praying for your continued good health, but also that you may always live joyfully! "I came that they may have LIFE and have it abundantly."


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