This is a post that I have wanted to write for awhile now. Not that it is anything new or different really, just some thoughts of mine that I wanted to share...
Cancer transforms you.
Some might argue that cancer changes you in some not-so-good ways, like you never really feel like your "old" or "normal" self again. Maybe your hair is different. Maybe you never fully re-gain your energy or strength like you once had. Maybe your taste buds are different. Maybe you have lingering side effects from treatments that last long-term.
Even with the bad though, I think that cancer transforms you for the better. Call me a "glass is half full" kind of person, and sure, maybe there were times when I couldn't see the good things about having cancer during my journey. But looking back at all that I went through, I see so many good things that more than make-up for the bad.
It's not like I'm a different person now. I am still me. Just a better, stronger version of me.
Cancer helped me realize how tough I am. You don't really know how strong you are or what you are capable of handling until you go through something really challenging in life, like cancer. Before my diagnosis, I never would've imagined that I had the physical, mental, and emotional strength and courage to get through things like treatment, scans, side effects, doctors visits, waiting for results, etc. Sure, I still get nervous for those things, but I know now that I can handle them.
Having cancer, especially at a young age, helped me gain so much more empathy for others and it taught me how important it is to serve. Not that I didn't have empathy before, but now, I really feel and know what others might be going through. And that is a true blessing to be able to understand and help people during hard times.
It's interesting but in my darkest moments I would find comfort in knowing that my trial was not just for me. It was to help others. Its purpose was something greater than myself. And what a reassurance it was to know that my purpose here on Earth was not fulfilled yet.
Cancer changes your perspective on life. I am a total Type "A" person, going 100 mph in 20 different directions all the time. I am always thinking about what is next, what lies ahead, and how to plan for that future. Very rarely would I just sit back and relish in the "now", enjoying the moment, and not worrying so much about the future.
The future somehow takes care of itself the way it is intended though. I know that now. Things just have a way of working out. I still have goals, but I don't plan so much. I don't put so many expectations on myself. I live in the moment and find so much more joy in living for TODAY, and not waiting for a better tomorrow. If anything, I want tomorrow to SLOW DOWN. I want to enjoy my life now, enjoy my kids now, and even try to enjoy the challenges that come our way.
Cancer taught me that I do not have complete control over ANYTHING. Especially my body. For someone that is used to that, control was a very difficult thing to give up when I got cancer. But surrendering to God was what I needed to do. I needed to do my part, yes, and take care of myself, but I needed to relinquish control and just have faith that He would heal me. He would make up the difference. He had a plan for me. This was and is a very hard lesson for me to learn.
I have learned not to take ANYTHING or ANYBODY for granted. I more fully appreciate and recognize my blessings, tender mercies, and the many miracles in my life. I always knew how blessed I was to have the family, friends, and support that I have, but going through cancer magnifies that LOVE from your loved ones even more. I am so completely grateful for my family, all of my many friends near and far, and the community of people that have rallied behind me, rooting me on. I simply would not be here without them.
When you go through something really challenging like cancer, all of the previous trials in your life are put into perspective. You learn to not sweat the small stuff so much. You are more patient and understanding. You have more love for others. You have more faith and hope. And you have more confidence in yourself and in God. "WE CAN DO HARD THINGS." was often the quote that came to my head when I doubted my ability to get through the hard times.
But probably the greatest thing that I have learned is how much my Father in Heaven knows me and loves me. Never in my life before have I felt His love for me stronger and more apparent than when I was going through difficult times throughout my journey. His love is what carried me through so many tears, worries, concerns, and doubts about my future. His love lifted me through so many ways-- through my children, my husband, my family members, through friends and even strangers. His love was and IS always around us. I didn't always recognize that, but now I do. I know that He shows his love in so many different ways, but often through other people.
When I think about that, I am overwhelmed with how much my Heavenly Father truly loves me because I feel so loved by many.
The transformation takes place when we recognize all of the good and growth in our life despite our hardships and we then practice and apply that wisdom that we have gained. And that is truly a beautiful thing.