February 23, 2011
Hop scotching from one date to the next. February 25th, 2009, declared cancer free. April 24th, 2008, date of diagnose, age 49, mantle cell lymphoma. My two year anniversary is here – cancer free.
These dates are etched in my mind as if they happened yesterday. I chuckle because sometimes I can’t even remember what happened two or three weeks ago . . .
As Dale and I were traveling down the road on our way to Canyon Ferry to ice boat, I said to him it is good to finally feel well and it is good to be out of the grip of depression. For two years and four months I climbed many mountains – from April 2008 to August 2010. The first climb was to the precipice of treatment. Then began my descent on the post side of treatment. However, on the other side was a severe descending into a very deep and dark valley and I wandered in this valley for a very long time.
I never thought after fighting with everything I had to defeat cancer, I would travel downward into an unknown valley called Anxiety and Fear. I looked hard for and so wanted someone to tell me how to find my way out but no one could. I read articles, looked at research, joined on line discussion groups and talked with a therapist, but still nothing and no one could help me.
Then finally an epiphany, only I could lead myself out of this dark place. I am the answer. So I went back to what I knew and I remembered the strength is not in anything or anyone or in me, it is in my faith. I was released from my lost wanderings and found myself on the path to total recovery.
In August, I found my depression was behind me. My first experience in journeying forward was a camping trip. Initially, I was intimidated and anxious. Could I handle being away from the security of home and being in crowded gatherings? I did it and realized my life was returning, I was finding the balance I lost.
In September, after my sixth month appointment with Dr. Glenn, I felt anxious and upset, almost angry. It is hard to explain how hearing I am doing fine and test results show I remain cancer free made me feel like having cancer was such a waste and intrusion in my life. How could I go from stage IV, aggressive treatment and auto stem cell transplant to cancer free in a blip of time? Cancer robbed me.
But in sorting through my emotions, I realized having cancer was not a waste and the experience pushed me to my end and I stretched and grew. The “scratches and mars” that cancer made in and on my life are now a part of my character and who I am.
The last finger hold of anxiety and fear let go one month ago. I was so caught up in expecting to relapse with my cancer that I was living as if I already relapsed. I was open and honest with my oncologist here in Montana and he compassionately stated that I must begin to think positively about living and believing I am truly cancer free. The final release and I can relax.
At the same time of being gently reprimanded by Dr. Goodman, my bible study took me to King Hezekiah’s prayer asking God to give him 15 more years of health and life. I thought, well if King Hezekiah can ask God for life, so can I; I will pray the same request! That prayer was my cinching to living a long, productive and exciting life beginning now and for many years to come.
Sometimes I want to pinch myself. Is it happening? I am not as consumed nor am I thinking about cancer every waking minute. I am finally moving past that constant heavy, unrelenting thought. I am living again! I am lighter, I am freer and I am relaxed. I appreciate life. I appreciate my life. My heart sings daily. I see and feel and breathe the beauty of life. My days are just beginning again. I am looking forward to my future.
I love each and every snowy day. I stop myself to observe the falling snow; pure and white and quiet. I absorb the beauty of the flocked and frozen trees, the ice across the lake and the alpen glow on the mountains at sunset. My ravaged soul is being refreshed and renewed as I drink in God’s glorious wonders.
I love the challenge of skiing. I fall and get back up to try again. Life – falling and getting back up. I love the chilled wind on my face. I love the cold air in my lungs. I was given a reprieve; temporary or forever, I don’t know and I don’t care!
February 25th, 2011 – two years cancer free!!