Mantle cell lymphoma, five year mark and I am living life

I am living life!

I am living life!

I am learning to let go of things in my life that I have absolutely no control over. I was given the permission to not have to fix everybody. I am allowing myself to feel emotion, all of that emotion I pushed down believing it was the right thing to do because I am a Christian. I am finding out about me and who I am and what I need and what I want. And somehow shouldn’t my cancer fit into this process? Do I just shut the door on it and say “good-bye” (and good riddance)? Or do I welcome it to come forward and incorporate itself into my present self-exploration?

I continue to read with interest an online mantle cell lymphoma forum. This forum is probably my only contact with the at large cancer world. I continue to write on this blog and over a year’s time I have made some wonderful blogging contacts who are inspiring as they face cancer either as a caretaker or patient. And three of my fellow cancer sojourners lost their battle with cancer.

I continue to facilitate a small Christian cancer support group. Many folks say this is a good service. I attend the local hospital’s women’s cancer support group and this group has gone through a lot this past year in losing two members and another one nearing the end of her life. And with our loss comes members who have relapsed and are in treatment again.

I could stop doing all of this and move on with my life. But if I withdrew from the cancer world whether through the net or locally or both, would I miss it? Would I be missed? As I am in this self-exploration and personal development of my hopes and goals for my future (now that I am pretty confident I have many years ahead of me) how does it all fit together? Should it all fit together?

I know some personalities naturally don’t think about or even spend time analyzing events of their past, others are, well, like me. I suppose the “easiest” way to analyze this is to not analyze at it at all but live forward. So if I take that advice in living forward then I think I would be doing exactly what I am doing.

I don’t want to live selfishly for myself (egocentric) but I want to live outwardly from within and give what I can to others; like I wrote, I don’t have to “fix” others, the key is simply being there for others.

When I think of fixing others, only Jesus Christ can do that. I don’t have those miraculous insights into people’s souls and neither can I heal people’s hurts, only Jesus Christ can do that. I think my only obligation is to listen, to hug and to compassionately assure those who God places in my life. I can not see myself NOT doing this.

So here I sit this morning thanking God for what He has given me, life.  I have changed from a self-centered person who felt “safest” in an environment I controlled (or so I thought), I am more empathetic (isn’t that what cancer does, helps us to empathize with others going through difficult times?) and I want to live life fully (there is a lot to live for and do both for others and myself).  I am thankful I can imagine and plan months and years out from today.

When you hear that cancer doesn’t define you, how does that make you feel?  I can’t help believe that hearing the words, “You have cancer”, is like a sharp knife piercing every aspect of a person’s being; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I don’t care what kind of cancer you are diagnosed with, I feel pretty safe to say everyone questions their mortality and wonders if cancer will lead to their death.

Cancer does leave a scar on our soul; the size of the scar is different for all of us but it is still a scar.  Cancer is part of our definition because somehow and in some way you responded to it and it changes you; yes, you remain you but there is a newer definition of you.

I am nearing my five year mark.  I look back on this journey and I am  thankful for every high and  low I experienced.  I was strong and focused all through treatment; I was fragmented and lost, lonely and isolated in my first years of survival.  Today I am impassioned to come alongside you as you face your battle.  I sincerely want to be your example of “you can do this and there is life beyond cancer.”  How can I do this for you?

Living the rest of my life.

Living the rest of my life.  Glacier National Park, Montana

I had cancer.  I survived cancer.  I am living life.

A new love – hiking in God’s creative wonder.  Would you like to join me?


6 comments on “Mantle cell lymphoma, five year mark and I am living life

  1. teresapoetry says:

    Though I haven’t had cancer, I know people that do. You are such a blessed example of endurance and faith : )

  2. Andrew says:

    Good post, and good reflections on the balance between looking forward and remembering backward. I always think of my cancer identity as one layer of my identity, more in the background now as I move forward and develop my other ‘layers’, but it will always be part of me and I maintain it, through my less frequent clinic visits, monthly support groups, and the various on-line fora.

    Sounds like you have found a good balance in your ‘new normal’.

    Keep these reflections up – helpful to us all.

  3. brianlamew says:

    Inspiring and congratulations!!

  4. Wendy Gorrell says:


  5. Kathy Baland says:

    In reading this, I found myself thinking that you were “born for such a time as this”.
    Carry on, dear one.

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