Monday, April 5, 2010

The Healing Journey

Recently I came across this statement in the book called, The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster: “Arrival is less important than the journey. This is because if the journey is a walk with Yahweh-man, there is an important sense in which you have arrived already. Yes, intimacy develops, but do you ever say of a relationship, “I’ve arrived”? Along the road there may be moments of epiphany but if not, that’s fine. Ecstasy isn’t of the essence of relationship. But expect things to happen. Your incremental shuffle along the road is an incremental edging forward of kingdom borders—it’s a restoration of broken things and a making of new things.”

After cancer treatment—I thought I had arrived at the other side, only to find that I am continuing on a journey, where there is no written plan. I am hoping that by sharing some of my experiences with the “restoration of broken things being made into new” it might be encouraging to others who find themselves, too, on this portion of the journey.

This past Friday morning started off with anticipation as I read the list of the winners for the She Speaks scholarship conference, knowing in my heart that my name probable wasn’t on the list, I still had a glimmer of hope. What a tough choice those judges had to make…over 300 entries and only 4 winners. Knowing this reality, why did I experience disappointment at not seeing my name on the list of winners? Maybe, because I was looking at the contest as a validation…that if I was a scholarship winner, I knew I am going down the path God wants for me. I mean if He opened the door for me to go to this conference, surely writing and women’s ministry is something He wants me to pursue….after reading the winning entries, offering congratulations and thanks to P31, I tucked away my tears and proceeded to get ready for work.

A common saying among oncology patients, “chemo is a gift with side effects that keep on giving”…. In January, when I had the laparoscopy for endometriosis, my gynecologist said my labs showed I was in menopause (a common side effect of chemo and which at the age of 41, I wasn’t too excited about as I do believe that there are many protective benefits of the menstrual cycle, etc.) So, to my surprise, a few weeks back my body gave me a gift (yup, Aunt Flo came a visiting). I thought I was back to “normal”. Who am I kidding? Nothing about this recovery journey has been normal. On Thursday evening, my body decided to let me know it was a bit angry about the torture I have put it through these past months and Aunt Flo kicked into overdrive…I have never experienced this before, even after having my babies. So, I spent Friday and Saturday talking with my gynecologist several times by phone, getting labs drawn a few times and many hours in the restroom. Thankfully my lab work stayed stable so I avoided an emergency D & C—Praise God!! Now, we just wait and see what next month brings. If the experience is like this time, recommendation is a hysterectomy, as it is too risky for me to take hormones. My body is tired and I really cringe at the thought of another surgery, so I am praying for no surprises.

Yesterday, in church we were blessed by a couple sharing how God met them at the empty tomb after experiencing the death of their baby. The wife shared how her childhood was filled with rejection, during her talk she made a statement that pierced my heart. You see, she found her baby dead in his crib and her thought was “God, have you rejected me too?”…for me it was an instant flashback…Remember those tears I tucked away on Friday? Well, the tear gates opened yesterday afternoon. With all the recent bumps in the road lately I had been wondering God what am I doing wrong? What am I “not getting”? When in reality, my sweet friend from church voiced my deepest fear; with these latest setbacks on my road to recovery did I think God was rejecting me? After all, I felt I had turned my life over to Him and all I seem to be doing is slipping and falling, sitting and recovering? In my tears, I cried out “Lord, please don’t reject me! Please help me understand… I just want some direction.” In my heart, I know that God didn’t and hasn’t rejected me…but by allowing my mind to go there…I was giving into the enemy, Satan knows what will trigger us into a tail spin. He picks our most vulnerable moments and can’t wait to pierce them with half truths. Thankfully, God allowed me to process all the happenings and thoughts pretty quickly, so I didn’t stay in the “ugly” place for long. Through my past experiences, I know that God is my Redeemer!

I would like to share personal thoughts on my experiences of the last few days. There are many times in this recovery phase that I have found that I want to get ahead of God. In my mind, I keep thinking what if my cancer comes back and I only have two years left…how will I get everything done? How silly? As it so clearly states in Jeremiah, God knows what are in my plans. He is the keeper of the days. How many bumps will it take before I understand that God is in control? I know, I know, I need to slow down and trust! As this part of the journey is taking much longer and emotionally much harder than I anticipated, I am praying that God helps me to stop fighting the healing process. Many people believe when someone is done with active cancer treatment—you are done—go on your merry way! However the mind, body and spirit are still so confused…they have been fighting for your life and yet, you keep changing the rules. There is no clear path, but as I have once again been reminded…there is a very real God directing the way!

I still don’t have the answers on what the finish project of my life will look like, but I do have a few ideas and what shape it might take:

Encouragement of others: women’s ministry, health ministry, general ministry. There are so many hurting women with whom I want to share how God met me in the “hurts” of my life… He filled me up with His love so that His love can pour out of me.

Writing: still unsure how this one will play out, there’s a dream there and I am aware of the hard work, but without the education and unsure if there is natural skill/talent—should I be spending time pursuing this dream or not??

Cancer Recovery: This is an area where the medical field definitely can use some improvement…I feel a passion for this area, along with combining integrative medicine in the healing (and preventative) process.

Wellness Coaching: I want to share the information that I have learned through my research to help encourage others to make healthy choices for their life.

Self: I believe that I am like so many women of today—we are so busy taking care of others: our spouses, children, parents, coworkers, friends, etc…that we forget the basics of taking care of ourselves. We forget that our bodies are temples. I am working really hard at putting boundaries in my life, so that I can practice good “self care”; knowing that this will help me take better care of others.

Well, that is what has been going on in my mind this Easter season. Once again, I have been humbly reminded that Jesus made a choice to be a sacrifice for us…part of the resurrection plan. A plan to give us hope and a future! How blessed are WE!!


Running the race said...

Kim thank you for the beautiful post. I want to say that you are one of the most passionate writers I have seen and the Lord is using you in a powerful way. Keep writing gal and don't give up! And by the way I am looking forward to the book you are going to write :)

Since I have only been on this journey for about 6 months I identify with the thought that this will be over and I will be on my merry way. Got the muga scan today, herceptin and then radiation. Then will it be over? I am hoping so. Reminds me of when I was a kid and we would drive from Wisconsin to Detroit to see my grandparents. "Are we almost there?" I would say to my dad. "No not yet" he would reply.

I am quite sure all of the people I work with and are around are ready for me to "be better." I am standing on God's word that He will not let the affliction return. The world may see cancer as a curse, I see it as a blessing in that God is carrying me, loving me in a new way every day! Hugs Luann

sonny rose said...

Hi Kim,
I came across your post and wanted to reach out as another kindred spirit. I, too, went through so many of the same thoughts and feelings as you. After my treatment for breast cancer, I was left trying to put the pieces back together, but 'back together' meant something very different than before my diagnosis.
Cancer is a door, and we choose how we want to go through it..sometimes we need a lot of help and inner guidance.
Keep listening to your guidance and follow your truth! Life is amazing.

Sonny Rose, M.A.C.P.
Founder of The Healing Beyond Cancer

Mary Aalgaard said...

Kim, do you see that you are already doing the ministry that you long for? Do you see that your writing is marvelous and helpful? It is. And, you are an inspiration and a resource. In my next post I'll list you on an award (will be working on it this morning) and I hope it will connect others to your supportive and open blog about your cancer and life journey. You're helping me recover from an abusive relationship. Not cancer, but a festering wound.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim. Thank you for your comment on my blog yesterday. I am touched by cancer. My dad passed away from colon cancer in 2000. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. At first it was stage 2 but after the surgery, they found that the cancer spread and her diagnosis was changed to stage 4. She's currently still going through herceptin treatments. I salute anyone who has gone through these treatments. I've seen first-hand how hard it is. What courage and strength. I am honoured to "meet" you.
Warm blessings,

kim said...

Thank you to everyone who posted such kind and thoughtful posts! Your an encouragement to me!

Anonymous said...

I think this is my favorite post you have ever done Kim - you touch on so many aspects of recovery and it resonates so strongly with me. First off, I understand completely what you mean about your sense of disappointment at She you know, I experienced a similar feeling recently and you and many others left some wonderfully supportive comments which buoyed me up. And similarly I say to you, that you are doing marvellous things for so many of us with your amazing writing.

You deal beautifully with that feeling of post-treatment let down that can affect us after all our treatment has ended. We are not prepared for the tsunami of emotions that hit. We can be filled alternately with relief and elation at being given a second chance and with anxiety, fear and uncertainty. We’ve left behind the security of the hospital care, the doctors and nurses that has monitored us so closely for the past few months and we ask ourselves, who will keep such a close eye on us now? Who is watching to make sure the cancer really has gone away? Our emotional and psychological landscapes may have changed and we need to find a new way to be in the world. While the battle for survival has ended, a new healing journey begins and you capture this beautifully in your blog.