Sometimes I write on a schedule but much of the time, I simply write when I am inspired. Today, I am not only inspired (INSPIRED ME!) but also overcome with joy (JOYFUL BE!).
As a cancer survivor, I have regularly scheduled appointments with my Oncologist. Right now, I see him every six months. Each visit consists of routine blood work, a brief physical exam, and discussion of concerns. I admit the approach of an upcoming appointment clouds my thoughts.
The need for such checkups reminds me of where I have been and renews the fear of what might be.
In truth, the memory of my fight never leaves – I have physical and emotional scars to prove it. But with the passage of time, I have become better at managing my relationship with cancer. I use the term “relationship” because we are indelibly linked. And although I have become the dominant partner (I am stubborn and strong, unwilling to give in to its demands), cancer does hold the power to intimidate me (it is a bit of a bully).
Every new appointment reminds me it is still there. It will always be there. And it can return. Whenever.
But thankfully today was not that day. My doctor granted me another glorious all-clear, and I am off the hook for a few more months!
The true purpose of this post, however, is not to provide a detailed re-hash of my battle. It is a simple plea:
Waiting in a cancer treatment center is nothing new to me. I have done it as the frightened, self-defeated, newly-diagnosed woman. I have done it as a post-surgical and chemotherapy dazed patient. I have done it for weekly blood draws, heart scans, drug injections, and intense follow-up visits. I have done it as a hopeful, triumphant, newly-declared-in-remission woman. I now do it as a survivor.
And each time I wait in that room for my name to be called, I am amazed. I see every stage of diagnosis and treatment level. I see young and old. I see caregivers and families. I see front office medical staff, phlebotomists, nurses, and doctors.
I see myself.
In that room, there is talk of tumor markers, cell counts, blood tests, prognoses, and pathology reports. There are people seeking aid, a path to recovery, a chance to return to the mundane, normalcy of life.
But I do not hear or see any of that.
Instead, I listen and look beyond. I hear hushed whispers and quiet laughter. I see brave eyes and remarkable smiles. Amid the presence of pain, there is joy, compassion, strength, kindness, and patience.
There is Peace. There is Life.
The next time you are upset over the ridiculously long line for coffee or angered by the person who cut you off in traffic, remember this: those are inconveniences not problems.
If you currently have steady employment, a roof over your head, meals on the table, family, friends, and good health … rejoice! You are one of the lucky ones.
If you are struggling financially, worried what will happen if the other shoe drops, estranged from someone you love, or battling an illness … rejoice! You are still one of the lucky ones.
Life may not always turn out the way we planned, but that does not mean we should fail to appreciate it. Whether you are in a good or bad place, you can still discover the hidden blessings and joy carried within each moment.
Be awake. Be grateful. Be alive. Right where you are.