Today is World Cancer Day and I’m thankful I fought cancer. For the longest time, I never thought I’d say those words – but thank You, God, that I fought cancer.
I can say that I’m thankful only because the Lord healed me and He taught me so much through fighting for my life – and I’ll praise Him forever for it. I can say these words from a place of acceptance.
Last week, our church hosted a worship night called Wonder. As I worshipped the Lord, dancing around, jumping and singing my heart out, it hit me. This, at one time, wasn’t possible. So it can never be taken for granted.
Just three short years ago I spent my entire days in bed, taking Tylenol every three hours, and doing subcutaneous injections of cancer treatment three times a week. I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs to get to my fourth year university classes. Worshipping for two hours straight would have been impossible.
I think the Lord brought this thought to my attention during worship because when I think of my life now, and how full it is, I’m reminded of how I once felt. The overwhelming level of exhaustion that I felt day in and day out. There were moments when I would panic because I couldn’t make it to my bed fast enough or I’d panic if I was in a public environment but I needed to sleep. I’d fall asleep in the bathtub. I’d have to pull over when driving so I didn’t fall asleep. I’d have to lay down at the cancer centre waiting to see my doctors. The fatigue and exhaustion was debilitating. If you’ve never experienced cancer related fatigue, it’s really hard to describe, but it’s actually really terrifying. It’s not just being tired or exhausted – it’s overwhelming.
The words “malignant melanoma” left physical scars on my body and invisible on my heart. I remember every part of it – even the parts I wish I could forget.
The taste of the toxins as they ran through my body. The grief. The 164 days of chemo running through my body. The anxiety. The 20 days of chemo dripping into my veins. The loss. The 17 hours of sleep each day. The PTSD. The 48 weeks of self-injections. The scars. The nights of crying on the bathroom floor. The scans. The nausea. The convulsions.
A few months ago, my dermatologist biopsied a mole from my skin, which I wrote about here. As he was sewing up the incision, he noticed something about my skin. He acknowledged that my skin was tough and thick – and he was shocked. He said that for someone young, thin, and fair-skinned with light featured, that it was unusual. That it was good – but actually quite uncommon.
Want to know why this skin is so tough? Want to know why it’s so thick?
Let me tell you what this skin has been through. Let me show you what this skin has seen. Let me walk you through the times it’s been cut but healed.
Being on the other side, I’m able to see that fighting for my life built a foundation for the rest of my life, and I’m thankful.
I quite literally fought for my life but in a lot of ways, it was the fight that prepared me for the rest of my life, and I’m thankful.
Through my cancer experience, I learned so much about resiliency and about the things that truly require and deserve my energy in this life. I’ve learned about who I truly want to be and what I want to do with the gift of life I’ve been given.
I thank God for the experience of fighting for my life, because through it, I learned how to rely on Him completely, wholly, and desperately – which is exactly how He intended for our relationship with Him to be. He intended for us to come to Him and need Him in every way – every day.
I’ll never be told that I’m “cancer-free.” There are days when it haunts me but I’m moving closer and closer to accepting that fact. There are days when I still mourn over a life that didn’t involve cancer but I know that God will always sustain my heart, no matter what the future looks like, no matter what’s going to come. And He has. A thousand times over – He has. Thank You, Jesus.
it has been a beautiful fight.