Well, this week was exciting….can’t deny the joy of your annual mammogram. For me, it brings back rather unpleasant memories. As much as I try to tell myself the chances are slim, anytime I go to something that is actually testing for cancer, I imagine what I would do if I got cancer again. It’s unavoidable. Unless you’ve had it, I guess it’s hard to understand,but the symptoms for cancer returning as stage 4 are so vague: a cough that won’t go away, aches and pains, and other common symptoms that seem insignificant if you haven’t had cancer before. OK…enough of the bad stuff. I only brought the cancer up to say that it reminded me this week while at my mammogram that cancer is where I first learned the lesson of letting go.
Being diagnosed at 34 was a complete shock to me. I wasn’t prepared to hear that I had breast cancer and I certainly wasn’t prepared to hear about the treatment I had ahead of me. I have always been somewhat independent; I was a single mom for over 6 years after Tyler’s dad and I divorced before I married Eric. I liked to think I was in “control” of things and with enough planning, I would prevent major problems and be prepared for most things. I detested asking for help and wanted to be able to take care of things on my own…no matter what.
Cancer changed that. I was no longer in control of my life. I couldn’t plan for what was ahead and nobody could tell me the future for certainty. It didn’t matter what I did or how many plans I made, the truth was I was not in control anymore. I mean, looking back, I know I was never in control in the first place, but it sure felt more like it when I didn’t have a disease that has no known cure.
Letting go when I had cancer was what allowed me to smile every day, laugh at times about being bald, and know that whatever happened to me in the future, that I was going to be okay with it. I knew that I couldn’t screw this up. I couldn’t make a dumb decision and make the cancer worse. I couldn’t make some 6 month plan that put me somewhere different than finishing chemo and headed to reconstructive surgery. Normally, not having a plan or enough info to make one would freak me out, but in this case, it freed me. It freed me to live life without the pressure of making plans for the future. Can’t make plans for something if you don’t even know if you’ll be around, right? That might sound morbid, but that’s not how I saw it. I saw it as learning to enjoy every day and not worrying as much about the future as I used to. I wasn’t going to let fear of the future force me to make decisions in the present.
Since cancer, I definitely enjoy life more. I don’t take things as seriously as I used to, and I see beauty in more simple things. I cherish good relationships more, and I let go of relationships that are more work than they are worth. I probably take more risks than I used to because I am not as scared of things as I used to be; I’m tougher and stronger than I thought. Most of all, after going through cancer, I trust Jesus more than I ever have in my life. I’ve always said I trusted Him, but now I know my life is completely in His hands and I am at peace at whatever He has in store for me. I am not in control; HE is. I have to say…after cancer, I finally truly understood the meaning of the saying “Let Go and Let God!” TJ