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June 16, 2014

When Mom Has Cancer (Part 1)

Sarah Headshot Oct2013 HDR“Sarah, the doctor wants you to come in tomorrow for the results of your biopsy.”

I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to hear. They only ask you to come in when it’s bad. “Can’t you just give me the results over the phone?”

“No. I don’t have the results. The doctor would like to talk to you tomorrow. What time works for you?”

That conversation changed me and changed the course of my life.

The next afternoon I heard the words everyone fears: You have cancer.

The word itself — cancer — it seems evil, doesn’t it? And is it ever! A condition that spreads death and destruction, separates parents from children and children from parents. It wreaks havoc on bodies and brings the strong low. I know countless people who’ve battled it. In fact, too many of my closest friends have been caught in its wicked snares. Now, it was my turn.

A flood of emotions and thoughts took over. How did I get it? What will my treatment involve? How will I tell my kids? How will they handle it? Will I live?

It’s been seven months since that fateful day, and I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share.

Gratitude is Life-Changing. Now I know this is a funny place to start during a discussion of cancer, but trust me on this one. Several years ago I got into the habit of keeping a gratitude journal, and that was one of the most transformative decisions I ever made. Forcing myself to look for God’s graces has made me a more content and more joyful person. If you looked through my journal, you’d see small things listed:

  • Honey Crisp apples
  • A baby’s belly laugh
  • Warm towels, fresh out of the dryer

You’d also see some larger things:

  • My husband not getting injured after being in a car accident
  • Watching my kids voluntarily hug one another
  • Being next to Granddaddy when he took his final breath

You might be wondering how I could possibly be grateful after receiving a diagnosis of cancer. Well, let me tell you: When you’ve made a habit of noticing the graces of everyday living, you just continue the habit. Now, does this mean sadness did not prevail some days or that I wasn’t just completely ticked off that I had cancer? No, but what it does mean is that I was more aware — aware of things to be grateful for in the midst of a dark place. Things like:

  • Talking to Terry who was diagnosed with the same cancer 12 years ago
  • Being overwhelmed by the number of friends praying for me
  • Mederma — good scar medication
  • Friends at work who fill in for me when I’m out
  • A month’s worth of meals following my surgeries

There are always things to complain about, whether you have cancer or not. But one thing I know for certain is that being a person who is marked by gratitude makes the dark places just a little brighter…no, make that a lot brighter.

(Continued tomorrow)

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